Source: supplied by publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: mystery, suspense, thriller
Series: Quinn & Costa #4
Published by Mira on April 25, 2023
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Bookshop.org, Better World Books
For three years, women have been disappearing—and eventually turning up dead in the small bayou town of St. Augustine, Louisiana. Police detective Beau Hebert is the only one who seems to care, but with every witness quickly silenced and a corrupt police department set on keeping the cases unsolved, Beau’s investigation stalls at every turn.
With nobody else to trust, Beau calls in a favor from his friend on the FBI’s Mobile Response Team. While LAPD detective Kara Quinn works undercover to dig into the women’s murders and team leader Matt Costa officially investigates the in-custody death of a witness, Beau might finally have a chance at solving the case.
But in a town where everyone knows everyone, talking gets you killed and secrets stay buried, it’s going to take the entire team working around the clock to unravel the truth. Especially when they discover that the deep-seated corruption and the deadly drug-trafficking ring at the center of it all extends far beyond the small-town borders.
To paraphrase Shakespeare, “Something is rotten in the parish of Broussard,” specifically in the town of St. Augustine, in the heart of the Louisiana bayou.
When we first meet St. Augustine detective Beau Hebert, there are already five women dead, one missing and presumed the same, and a man has just committed murder in front of an entire crowd of folks mostly waiting for their turn in a bar that EVERYONE in town knows is a front for the local brothel and illegal drugs distributor.
There’s a lot going on, all of it bad, and looking like it’s going to get worse. Detective Hebert is pretty damn certain that his boss, the chief of police, is in on the whole mess past his wallet and up to his neck, and that there’s a fix in with the District Attorney. Between the two of them, nothing ever gets done and no one ever gets brought up on charges no matter how much evidence Hebert brings in.
Because it all disappears somewhere along the way.
At the end of his rope, feeling like his time is running out one way or another, with no one to turn to, Hebert phones a friend. An old friend from his days in the Navy, who just so happens to be a member of FBI Special Agent in Charge Mathias Costa’s Mobile Response Team.
Hebert thinks all he needs is someone to talk to – because he has too many hostages to fortune in the parish to rock the very rotten boat. But friends don’t leave friends out on a limb all alone, so Costa’s entire team makes their way to the heart of the bayou to dredge up all the muck that’s obscuring what’s at the bottom of the filthy water.
Along with all the alligators lurking among the corrupt powers that be in this tiny town. The thing about gators is that they bite. What those antediluvian descendants of dinosaurs don’t know – at least not yet – is that Costa and his team bite back.
Escape Rating A-: I picked this up for two reasons. First and foremost, because I fell straight into the plot and the team dynamics of this bunch when I read the second book in the Quinn & Costa series, Tell No Lies. I couldn’t put that one down, and the same was true of the third book in the series, The Wrong Victim. So I went into this one expecting a compelling thriller – and I mostly got that.
I also love this series for its ‘competence porn’ aspects. I was in the mood for something where the protagonists knew what the hell they were doing and weren’t worrying about the consequences of doing it. I was certain that was something I’d get in this series and I was pretty much all in.
The only thing keeping this from being an A+ like the previous two books is that the question about whether the relationship between Mathias Costa and Kara Quinn is merely friends-with-benefits, all hidden on the down-low because of their working relationship, or whether it’s going to be an actual ‘Relationship’ with a capital ‘R’ got a bit too angsty and had a bit too much of an impact on both of their behaviors during this case.
Which had all the angst it needed without throwing the emotional baggage they are both lugging around about romance into the mix.
The case itself had me on the edge of my seat because of the way the stakes start out high and just keep getting higher. And because even from the opening, it’s obvious to EVERYONE that someone – or several someones – have committed horrible crimes and that someone powerful is doing more terrible things to keep those crimes covered up.
The question that plagues Beau Hebert at the beginning, and Costa’s entire team once they get there, is exactly who to pin what on. Because someone keeps making the evidence disappear – right along with any potential witnesses. But there are so many motives and so many victims that the air is as thick with suspects as it is with humidity.
And there’s a traitor in their midst muddying the already murky waters, as well as a terrible question. As horrible as the situation is, and as frightened as every single person in town seems to be of pretty much everything – and rightfully so, if Costa and his team do manage to clean out the gators is anyone going to be left with the strength and the will and the sheer moxie to prevent the whole damn parish from sinking back down into the mire?
But that’s not Costa’s job. His job is to arrest the perpetrators with enough evidence to make the charges stick all the way to long jail terms – and to protect his team at all costs. Before all is said and done, and for once more is done than said and not the other way around, that cost almost becomes too high to pay.
While the team wraps up this case with a VERY satisfactory bow at the end, it does not read as if the Quinn & Costa series is anywhere near finished – which is an excellent thing! But there is not currently a next book in the series listed, I have hope there will be one. I am hooked on this author, so I’m very happy that the author has an upcoming standalone thriller, North of Nowhere (due out this August) to tide me over while I wait!