Smell of Death
Tigress, Jan 2008, $13.95
In Rocky Buffs, California, police officer Stacey Wilbur responds to the call from concerned senior citizen Mrs. Lindhall, who shows her doubts about the cop on her face as she towers over the small policewoman. Stacey enters the home of neighbor Darlene Brantley, divorced mother of two small children only to find a homicide scene. She calls it in and Detective Doug Milligan arrives to lead the investigation. The victim’s ex husband Charles shows up to gather his kids. Doug sends Stacey to talk to Darlene’s mother Mrs. Bender whom she finds murdered too.
At the same time exonerated officer Felix Zachary struggles with having killed an unarmed suspect. Sergeant Abel Navarro leads inquires into a missing two year old Kelley whose parents are despondent and whose aunt is blaming herself for turning her back for a minute; the prime suspect a child molester has an airtight alibi. Finally someone is laying siege to the Trimmel family. With all that going on, Doug unconsciously uses police work to see Stacey as he is attracted to the single mother of a small son; she reciprocates his feelings and appreciates his mentoring her re investigations.
Though Doug and Stacey are the stars, the latest Rocky Buffs police procedural (see FRINGE BENEFITS and FINAL RESPECTS) SMELL OF DEATH still feels like an Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct thriller as several subplots focus on other police officers. The story line is fast-paced regardless of which investigation and cop is the focus. Readers will feel the tension over the double murders, the Trimmel harassment and the missing child while also empathizing with Felix and his beloved wife. This is a great entry in a strong series.