Judith Sullivan is a writer in Leeds, originally from Baltimore. She is working on a crime series set in Paris. Fluent in French, she’s pretty good with English and has conversational Italian and German. She is working to develop her Yorkshire speak.
hook on this one is that protagonist, Ren Bryce is bipolar. The story, told in
the third person, is interspersed with Bryce’s first-person comments alluding
to her ups or downs or in-betweens. The good news is these italicized asides do
not interrupt the story. Less good is I found there are a bit too many of them.
All that said, this is a good read. Bryce is an FBI special
agent in a bureau in Colorado, struggling with containing her disease and
picking whom to tell and whom to keep in the dark. The central mystery begins
with a car crash which is revealed to involve the driver being shot. The victim
is a young Irish immigrant to the US named Laura Flynn and if that’s not a nod
to David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, I’ll eat
The woman has been working as an au pair to the familiar
trope of a mystery novel character – the handsome zillionaire. In this case,
the Richard Branson type is one Robert Prince, son of an equally rich father
and a giver of monies to Catholic causes. He is married to a beautiful Swedish
onetime model (of course) named Ingrid who is expecting their first child. He has
many dealings with an organization so closely modeled on Opus Dei, Dan Brown
would surely approve.
The plot thickens and extends to Lynch’s native Ireland, and
to a somewhat out-of-place new agey commune in a disused nunnery called
Evergreen Abbey, not far from this is Safe Streets, a center for troubled
As Bryce pursues the Lynch/Prince she teams up with friend
Janine Hooks who happens to investigate cold cases. The Janine/Ren relationship
was one of the high points of the book for me – intelligent, believable,
sexually grown-up. The two women discover a possible link between the Lynch killing
and a local murder from decades back.
A third plot strand comes across as less believable and that
involves a self-styled super evangelist with the unfortunate moniker of Howard
Coombes. You just know he’ll be up to no good
I liked the way the Janine/Ren dynamic duo pulled all the
loose ends together, even those stretching all way back decades. The verbal
interplay between them and their relationships with other colleagues were
similar to the life-like banter of Scott & Bailey on UK television. It
drives the personal and the professional elements of the plot and keeps the
reader feeling at home with the characters.
I am keen to learn more about Ren Bryce’s adventures and do
hope she can reconcile her bipolarity with a happy home life with her nice
special agent boyfriend and further cleverly resolved investigations. Lousy
title. Pretty good book.