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Saturday, October 24, 2015


4 stars out of 5

The plot of this book sounded intriguing, but honestly, at first I was even more interested in the setting. Having grown up in southwestern Ohio a little more than an hour's drive north of Cincinnati, I have fond memories of the Queen City. Most  came from many visits to the wonderful Cincinnati Zoo and Coney Island amusement park rather than in the city's downtown, although later in life I recall going back to conduct a seminar for nursing home administrators at the College of Mount Saint Joseph. And I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for the Cincinnati Reds.

Happily, though, I never bumped heads with the city's Homicide Division where police specialist Sonora Blair does her thing. In this, the first of a series of four books with Blair as the main attraction, the single mother of two gets a call that sends her to Mount Airy Forest to investigate the gruesome murder of a college student. He was, it seems, handcuffed to the steering wheel of his car, liberally sprinkled with gasoline and (yuck!) set on fire while alive. The victim, Mark Daniels, manages to utter a few clues at the hospital before taking his final breath, but it's nowhere near enough to bring about an arrest.

After meeting Mark's brother, Keaton (a hunky elementary school teacher; oh golly, wonder where that will lead), more clues emerge that suggest the killer - believed to be female - might have tagged the wrong brother. Worse, she's still out there, and it soon becomes apparent that she's now set her sights on Keaton and Sonora; both begin getting troubling messages and phone calls that suggest they, and their loved ones, could be in real danger.

The action starts at the beginning and doesn't stop till the end, making it hard to put down. Sandwiched in between are details of Sonora's life, some of which are not all that pleasant. Somehow, the killer seems to have obtained some of those details, giving her a bit of a psychological advantage.  I'd have to say the conclusion wasn't quite as satisfying as I'd hoped it would be, but it works (and obviously Sonora lives to see another book, so in that regard, all's well no matter how it ends).

I'll also note that when I requested and received this book from NetGalley at no cost in exchange for a review, I didn't realize it was first published about 20 years ago and apparently is being released in 2015 in ebook-only format. That said, I didn't notice anything here that seemed out of date (perhaps the reissued version has been updated - somewhere between then and now about 100 pages went missing). It's certainly good enough that I won't hesitate to try the others in the series - according to the description, the books can be read in any order, but I'm pretty much a stickler for first things first so I'm glad I started where I did. 

Flashpoint by Lynn Hightower (Open Road Media Mystery & Thriller, October 2015); 321 pp. 

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