Linda Rodriguez' Skeet Bannion mysteries have become "must-reads". The Kansas City cop turned head of campus police is a fascinating character, somewhat troubled, trying to put her life back together after a divorce and a rocky relationship with her father. The addition of a teen boy to her household brings love as well as tumultuous teen emotions. Then, in Every Hidden Fear, the entire town of Brewster, Missouri seems to fall apart. But, Skeet has unexpected help in coping this time. She has her strong-willed grandmother on her side.
Skeet's glad the eighty-year-old Cherokee elder is with her when the entire town seems to grow crazy. As part of a plan to bring a mall to town, Ash Mowbray, has returned. He was once a young stud there from a poor, trashy family. Now, he's come back, supposedly to be the face of the mall project, already controversial when the small shop owners are afraid of losing their businesses. But, Ash has plans to get revenge on so many people, calling them out in public. When Mowbray is murdered, it's a teenage boy who's the prime suspect. Just as in an Agatha Christie story, Skeet sees that so many people in town have reasons to want Ash Mowbray dead. So, why is the local police chief, a friend of Skeet's, trying to ram through the murder charge for the teen?
Brewster, Missouri is filled with characters who have hidden secrets, and someone is trying to capitalize on those secrets. Rodriguez presents a clever story with a small town full of suspects. And, she does an excellent job bringing all of those characters to life. Skeet is a strong woman, with her own weaknesses, and she's forced to confront them in the course of the book. At the same time, she has admirable qualities. One man who wishes to be closer says, "Skeet, you are the person they invented the word honor for." But, Skeet isn't the only strong woman in this book. I would have liked to see more of Gran, a wise, no-nonsense woman. Rodriguez excels at developing characters that stand out.
As Skeet hunts for a Ash Mowbray's killer, she watches her town torn apart. "That death was like a tornado sucking everything and everyone into it and carrying them off to somewhere strange." Finally Skeet is forced to track a surprising killer through a blizzard that only Gran predicted. The search-and-rescue mission is a powerful scene, but no more powerful than Rodriguez' concluding scenes in this compelling mystery.
Linda Rodriguez' website is www.lindarodriguezwrites.blogspot.com.
Every Hidden Fear by Linda Rodriguez. Minotaur Books. 2014. ISBN 9781250049155 (hardcover), 292p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.