Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A Gritty Compelling Novel from Matthew Iden

This is a taut, noirish novel in which the action plays out in only a few hours, albeit very long hours, for the characters who are caught up in the story. Marty Singer is a retired Washington, D.C. homicide detective who's awakened out of a sound sleep a little after 9:00 one night by Chuck Rhee, a detective on the Arlington, Virginia police force who specializes in the criminal gangs that work the area. Chuck's sixteen-year-old sister, Lucy, has failed to come home and Chuck instinctively knows that she's been kidnapped. Rhee understands that if he simply reports Lucy missing, it will be hours and more likely days before the police take any concrete steps to find her. By then she could be gone forever, and Chuck begs Marty to help him short-circuit the process and begin looking for her immediately.

Meanwhile, a rookie Maryland state trooper named Sarah Haynesworth has reason to believe that someone is coercing young girls into prostitution. She has the name of a suspect and of a potential victim, but she arrives at the suspect's home just as the man is dragging the body of the victim, who has overdosed, out his back door. One she arrests the man, Sarah has no authorization to pursue the investigation any further but she continues to do so on her own time. Thus, from two very different angles, Sarah on the one hand and Marty Singer and Chuck Rhee on the other begin to unravel a nightmare scenario in which very young women are being trafficked across several state lines.

The story is told from multiple viewpoints and proceeds at a frantic pace through the rest of that very long night. To say much more about the plot would be to give too much away, but Matthew Iden has written here one of those proverbial thrillers that grabs the reader by the throat and refuses to let go. Even the lesser characters are very finely drawn and the settings are very well done. The action takes place on a cold winter night and Iden has the reader shivering along with the characters at a good many points along the way.

It all builds to a strong climax that caps the story perfectly. This is a novel that will appeal to large numbers of crime fiction readers.

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