5 stars out of 5
In my little world of mysteries and thrillers, what gives me the greatest joy? Easy: Characters I enjoy reading about and - be still my heart - discovering that I'll be able to read about them again and again as part of a series. So color me delighted to find this book, which introduces "heir hunter" Michael Flint.
Turns out he's a pretty cool character, with the requisite hard-scrabble secret agent background, deadly aim with just about every gun known to humankind and a tech-savvy female investigator pal who's got some fairly hefty baggage of her own. Like the sedimentary form of quartz with which he shares a name, Flint is hard-nosed and gets fired up when fired at - but underneath that shoulder holster is a layer of uncertainty born of a chaotic childhood.
When the book begins, Flint is busy trying to track down a painting that was stolen by the Nazis but now is "owned" by a man in hiding. That man ends up dead, forcing Flint to look for a relative who can sign the stolen painting over. Just as he's deciding where to go next, his destination is decided for him; he gets a call from Texas oil baron Sebastian Shaw, who demands that they meet immediately. Flint bristles at being ordered around, but then learns the command comes by way of his oldest friend, investigator Kathryn Scarlett (the oil baron, it seems, is her client).
Capitulating to keep the peace and great working relationship with Scarlett, Flint meets with Shaw, who hires him to find a woman named Laura Oakwood. The woman, who Flint learns has been hiding in parts unknown for something like 28 years because of her involvement in an armed robbery and murder, won't be easy to find. But the oil baron has his heart and pocketbook set on buying lucrative mineral rights to land she inherited from her family - rights worth something like $50 million. Problem is, time is paramount; unless Shaw gets the signature within a few days, he'll lose his option, Oakwood will lose the money forever and (horror of horrors) the mineral rights will go to Shaw's arch rival, Felix Crane.
Shaw wants the woman found, while Crane's best interests lie in the opposite direction - and in that winner-take-all atmosphere, both men are willing to do whatever it takes to get the outcome they want. The chase runs from Texas to Canada and back, racking up all sorts of modes of transportation from helicopters, muscle cars, airplanes and machines that can navigate heavily snow-covered territory. At each stop along the way, layers are peeled back and secrets are uncovered that lead to an action-packed finish.
So what's next? No cliffhangers here, thankfully, but there are enough loose ends that could make good fodder for the next assignment, should the author decide to accept it. I'll be waiting! Meantime, I thank the author and publisher, via NetGalley, for the opportunity to read and review this one in exchange for an honest review.
Blood Trails by Diane Capri (Thomas & Mercer, October 2016); 330 pp.