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by Sean Black
Bantam, August 2012
336 pages
14.99 GBP
ISBN: 059306884X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Melissa Warner is determined to attract the attention of close personal protection specialist Ryan Lock at a concert where he is advising on security for the band. She succeeds, but not quite in the way she'd hoped. Ryan Lock sees a young woman approaching him with blood pouring from her abdomen. While his friend and colleague, ex-marine, Tyrone Johnson, hustles their charges away, Lock does his best to keep the woman alive. Despite her condition, she tells Lock that she needs him to bring to catch someone, where everyone else has failed. As more of the story gradually emerges, Lock discovers that Melissa was raped by wealthy playboy, Charlie Mendez, who had fled to Mexico, to escape justice. A bounty hunter who had Mendez in his sights was killed, this plus the attack on Melissa is enough to prove that the man has powerful friends.

Despite warnings from the dead bounty hunter's widow, Lock is determined to keep his promise to Melissa and bring back Mendez. With Ty Johnson for company, Lock goes south of the border, following his only lead, a phone number he obtained from the dead man's records. The phone number leads him to Detective Rafaela Carcharon of the Mexican federal police, who clearly doesn't know whether Lock and Ty are to be trusted. Carcharon is a woman on a mission to find justice for the alarming number of young women who disappear, only to be found dead, often horribly mutilated. The three of them are up against corruption, drugs cartels and rogue policemen and need all of their wits to survive.

I leveled some mild criticism against Sean Black in my review of his last book, GRIDLOCK as I felt that his female characters, particularly Lock's girlfriend lacked depth, but that isn't an accusation that can be leveled at Rafaela Carcharon. The depth of her feeling for the murdered women is palpable. She's competent, likeable and a good ally. By the same token, Lock, a man still coming to terms with the death of his girlfriend, gains depth in this book, and as before, his relationship with Ty Johnson is the lynchpin that holds the book together, with reminiscent of that between Robert B. Parker's Spenser and Hawk.

Black provides another well-paced, solid thriller that kept my attention. Whilst the dénouement is not necessarily much of a surprise, it does ties things up nicely, without resorting to too much of the laboured exposition that drags so many books down in the closing stages.

§ Linda Wilson is a writer, and retired solicitor, with an interest in archaeology and cave art, who now divides her time between England and France.

Reviewed by Linda Wilson, November 2012

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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