An ex–Atlanta cop comes home to a small North Carolina town looking for peace and quiet. Ha!
For a while it seems as if Judd Wheeler has made the right call. Prosperity, N.C., is postcard pretty, off the beaten track and given more to misdemeanors than to the urban ugliness that had circumscribed law and order in Atlanta. But everything changes dramatically when a couple of high-school kids find the corpse of a schoolmate. Gypsy Camarena, 16 and beautiful, has been strangled, her lifeless body dumped near Six Mile Creek. It’s as if that outrageous act of violence has unlocked Pandora’s box. Suddenly, Prosperity’s new chief of police and his force of three find themselves confronting the possibility of hate crimes, drug wars and ruthless incursions by an anarchic biker gang, to say nothing of unwanted visits from government agents, officiously eager to act like big frogs in a small pond. In addition, Judd sports an array of personal problems that had always been there but have now grown in a way that makes them impossible to ignore. Worn down and harassed by town fathers impatient for solutions, Judd does what good cops must do: He follows the evidence even when it’s painfully clear the road will not lead to places he wants to go.
Tightly plotted and refreshingly fast-paced. Veteran Helms (Cordite Wine, 2005, etc.) introduces a likable protagonist in a promising new series.