Shamus Award–winner John Straley returns to his critically acclaimed Cecil Younger detective series, set in Sitka, Alaska, a land of perfect beauty and not-so-perfect locals.
Criminal defense investigator Cecil Younger spends his days coaching would-be felons on how to avoid incriminating themselves. He even likes most of the rough characters who seek his services. So when Sherrie, a returning client, asks him to track down some evidence to clear her of a domestic violence charge, Cecil agrees. Maybe he’ll find something that will get her abusive boyfriend locked up for good.
Cecil treks out to the shady apartment complex only to discover the “evidence” is a large pile of cash—fifty thousand dollars, to be exact. That is how Cecil finds himself in violation of one of his own maxims: Nothing good comes of walking around with a lot of someone else’s money.
In this case, “nothing good” turns out to be a deep freeze full of drug-stuffed fish, a murder witnessed at close range, and a kidnapping—his teenage daughter, Blossom, is snatched as collateral for his cooperation. The reluctant, deeply unlucky investigator turns to an unlikely source for help: the misfit gang of clients he’s helped to defend over the years. Together, they devise a plan to free Blossom and restore order to Sitka. But when your only hope for justice lies in the hands of a group of criminals, things don’t always go according to plan.
Shamus Award winner Straley humanizes slapstick mayhem in his exceptional seventh Cecil Younger mystery (after 2001's Cold Water Burning). Cecil, an investigator for the Public Defender Agency in rainy, grimy Sitka, Alaska, does his best for pathetic and dangerous clients. Unfortunately, a war for control of the local meth trade makes Cecil the holder of a bag of drug money, a bystander during the murder of a Mexican drug mule, and the designated assassin of a female witness against the would-be drug boss, a right-wing lunatic. If Cecil doesn't kill the woman, his kidnapped 13-year-old daughter, Blossom, will die. Since he can't trust official law enforcement officers, he must gather his own rescue squad, including his profoundly pissed-off wife, Jane Marie, and his autistic best friend, Todd. The results are hilarious and horrendous, since Straley never forgets that real, vulnerable people are involved. Interspersed with mordant thoughts about the criminal justice system, the novel builds to a conclusion that's both satisfying and discomforting. Readers will hope they won't have to wait 17 years for Cecil's next adventure.