5 stars out of 5
In the endless sea of oysters stocked with "girl"-titled books, this one's a pearl. In fact, despite my vow to eschew any and all with that word in the title for at least the next three years, I couldn't wait to dive into it. So what turned the tide? Well, it was a can't-miss combination: Favorite author, favorite series, and the chance to read an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to the author and publisher for that invitation, BTW.
This is the fourth in the author's Tracy Crosswhite series, and like the others, it's a winner. I polished it off over the course of two days - not an easy feat when you've got a part-time editing job and a husband who could burn water if given half a chance (put another way, unless we eat out, dinner is on me).
Crosswhite, for those who don't already know, works at the Seattle Police Department's Violent Crimes Section and partners with Kinsington Rowe, aka Kins. She's in a serious relationship with Dan, an attorney, but psychological baggage carried over from her sister's death and the end of her first marriage keep her on the skittish side of any kind of formal hook-up. All that baggage also creeps into her work, as happens in this book.
It begins with the discovery of a female body in a crab pot - accidentally pulled out of the water by a kid trying to circumvent crabbing laws by placing and retrieving his pots under the cover of near-darkness. Identifying the victim, however, proves challenging; clearly, someone - perhaps the victim herself - has gone to great lengths to conceal who she is. Eventually, though, evidence points to a woman who went missing while mountain-climbing with her husband (a rather unsavory character who remains a person of interest in her disappearance but hasn't been charged as yet).
Needless to say, there's far more to the story. Quite a bit more, in fact; the intriguing plot, and the well-developed characters, seem a tad more complex than in previous books, with a few surprises (a couple of them whoppers). Failure to nail down what really happened and find the killer reminds Tracy of her own sister's murder, prompting her to keep plugging away when the going gets especially tough.
For those who already love this series, there's a downside; this latest installment isn't scheduled for release till January 24, 2017. But for anyone else, here's a suggestion: Although reading the first three books isn't a requirement for enjoyment of this one, why not spend the time reading the first three? In order of appearance, they are My Sister's Grave, Her Final Breath and In the Clearing. You'll be glad you did!
The Trapped Girl by Robert Dugoni (Thomas & Mercer, January 2017).