An ex-cop–turned–private eye revives the cold case of a young woman's disappearance in contemporary Vancouver.
Dave Wakeland, the hero of what is presumably the first book in a series, fills out the genre requirements for a PI pretty nicely. He's tough, cynical in a way that disguises a commitment to justice, a drinker without being a drunk, disrespectful of authority, and with the type of background—ex-cop and ex-boxer—that denotes the ability to hand out, and take, punishment. Despite the objections of a slick partner in the high-powered security firm where he has signed on to work, Wakeland takes an assignment to aid a dying woman find out what became of her adopted daughter, who disappeared years before. The first tip, that she was the victim of a prolific serial killer, turns up nothing. But the vanished girl's experience with drugs and prostitution causes Wakeland to fall afoul of a local biker gang and, inevitably, baddies who operate at a higher level. The novel avoids the glumness and hopelessness that's too often confused with authenticity in crime writing. Wakeland is appealing enough if also, at this point, something like a sketch waiting to be filled in. His relationship with a former elementary school classmate–turned–sex worker and addict skirts the cliché of the man-as-savior, but it doesn't quite have the depth to make us feel as rueful as we should. But then all the supporting characters could be a little more sharply drawn and the book could stand to lose the beatings and deaths that are piled up toward the end.
A promising-enough start for what might turn out to be an engaging series.