Afton Tangler Thriller, Book #2
By Gerry Schmitt
Author’s website: www.gerryschmitt.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
Leland Odin made his fortune launching a home shopping network, but his millions can t save his life. On the list for a transplant, the ailing businessman sees all hope lost when the helicopter carrying his donor heart is shot out of the sky.
Now with two pilots dead and dozens injured, Afton Tangler, family liaison officer for the Minneapolis Police Department, is drawn into the case. As she and her partner investigate family members and business associates, whoever wants Leland dead strikes again and succeeds in a brazen hospital room attack.
The supposedly squeaky clean millionaire has crossed the wrong person and she’s not finished exacting her revenge. The case explodes into an international conspiracy of unbridled greed and violence. And as Afton gets closer to unearthing the mastermind behind it, she gets closer to becoming collateral damage…”
Shadow Girl, the gritty follow up to Little Girl Gone, if full of twisty treachery and dark characters. With its spare style and short chapters, it is compulsively readable and entertaining.
Schmitt had me hooked from page two when the medical helicopter containing victim Leland Odin’s heart is shot down. What an innovative method of attempted murder! I actually found this to be the most exciting part of the book. Touted as a thriller, it is much more a police procedural, but there is plenty of danger and violence to go around. With his heart no longer viable, Odin’s fate is sealed, and others around him also meet an unsavory end. We follow along with Family Liaison Officer Afton and Detective Max Montgomery as they try to work everything out. Could Odin’s murder be personal – marital troubles or a greedy step-daughter? A matter of business – an avaricious partner or a business deal gone bad? Revenge?
I liked Shadow Girl, but knowing who the bad guys are from the very beginning is a little disappointing. I wanted there to be more mystery and puzzle to figure out. Instead, we read the action from several points of view, both good and bad, and I think this dowses any tension that might have been built otherwise. Readers must also suspend reality a bit because I do not think that a family liaison officer would be allowed to do any of the things Afton finds herself in the middle of. Afton wants to be a detective someday, and I hope Schmitt gives her a promotion sooner rather than later.
Afton and Max are both likable and honest characters. To me, they represent all that is supposed to be good in the world. They are both relatable and feel authentic. I do not feel we got to know Odin nearly well enough to mourn his passing, and, at times, this made it difficult to care about the motive of his murder. Mom Chao Cherry, her assassin Narong, and goon Hack are all sufficiently evil and flat-out over the top villains. They put people through some truly terrible things that are not for the faint of heart to read.
The Afton Tangler series is a big departure from Schmitt’s alter ego Laura Childs’ cozy mysteries and I think she succeeds in both genres as a writer of quality stories. I recommend Shadow Girl to fans of darker crime fiction.