Saturday, May 22, 2021

BOOK REVIEW: Coldwater Revenge by James A. Ross

I don’t generally read contemporary thrillers, but having enjoyed the historical thriller, Hunting Teddy Roosevelt by James A. Ross, I decided to try Book 1 of his A Coldwater Mystery series: Coldwater Revenge.

Tom Morgan, a high-powered corporate lawyer arrives in his old hometown of Coldwater (just south of the Canadian border) for a short family visit. He calls it a vacation, but he’s come home because his mother broke her leg and his younger brother’s family could use a bit of help caring for her. His brother, Joe, is a busy man. Joe is the local sheriff, who inherited the position, with all it entails, from their father.

The two brothers are both hard-driven, grasping, intelligent men, but there the similarities end. Tom fled the small-town life, leaving behind a failed romance and the disillusionment of discovering his father was not the hero he’d thought him to be. Joe embraced it all.

No sooner does Tom return home when a local ne’er-do-well, Billy Pearce, is discovered drowned in the lake, clearly murdered.

The murder interests Tom because that failed romance from his past was with Susan Pearce, Billy’s sister. Susan is back in town as well, working for a pharmaceutical research company, a start-up with very shady business practices. Tom may not have Joe’s skills at criminal detective work, but he knows a good deal about shady business practices. Joe enlists Tom’s help, partly because he can use it and partly to keep him from zipping back to New York to deal with an urgent corporate legal mess. Tom stays, partly to help but partly because of Susan.

The investigation branches out to include local small-time drug dealers, big-time pseudo-researchers, a jaded priest who might be a pedophile, and potential terrorists. As Tom casts his net wider, he finds he can’t even exclude Susan from suspicion, or even Joe.

The plotting is taut; the characters are intriguing, and the setting is vividly described. Even though contemporary thrillers are not my usual fare, I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

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