An African-American investigative journalist hunts her cousin’s killer and then becomes a target herself in this Southern thriller.
Beatrice “Beazy” Middleton, freshly laid off from her reporting job in Los Angeles, drives her silver Beemer cross-country to visit her family in Savannah, Georgia. Halfway there, her brother, Luther, a sheriff in rural Georgia, calls to say their 15-year-old cousin, Jayden, was murdered. Jayden, a musical prodigy, played fiddle and organ, and he “had the voice of a young Stevie Wonder.” Emad Al Alequi, whose father, Farouk, heads an Afghan heroin ring, recognized Jayden’s talent and was working as his manager. Marcus “Muhammed” Trotter, hired by Farouk to be his son’s handler, knew if Emad got overly involved with Jayden, it would interfere with the family’s drug trade. If Trotter couldn’t deter Emad, he could stop Jayden—with a “9mm hollow point, Teflon-tipped” bullet. It turns out Trotter’s history of being a very bad dude stretches back to high school when he assaulted Beatrice, who was rescued by Luther’s best friend, Rio Deakins. Trotter relishes the chance to hurt Beatrice again while Rio, now a “goddamned gorgeous” motorcycle-riding college professor, comes back into her life and may be the perfect man for her—despite his fiancee. Hinkin’s (Deadly Focus, 2018) second Vega and Middleton Mystery, which, like the first book in the series, stars only one of the titular characters and reads like a thriller, successfully blends multiple ingredients: fast pacing, romance, danger, humor, and a crazy wild ending. Nice details pepper the story: For example, a character in a coffee shop insists “on stabilizing the table with a couple of sugar packets,” and the female redheaded police detective has skin “the color of cream with cinnamon sprinkles.” Other passages border on the poetic, such as Beatrice’s thoughts as her car races like a swift, sleek panther home to Georgia: “Licking my lips, I sought the briny tang of the Pacific, but it was gone. Other flavors were on the rise. I took a long swig of water. I was good. A little anxious, but good.”
A spirited reporter dealing with her past and helping police solve a murder in the family makes this novel hard to put down.