Close To Home by Robert Dugoni (Tracy Crosswhite Series, #5)

Cover Dugoni Close to Home

I first “met” Detective Tracy Crosswhite of the Seattle Police Department In My Sister’s Grave, back in 2014. Since then, I’ve enjoyed following both her adventures fighting crime and her personal story. Close To Home is #5 in Robert Dugoni’s Tracy Crosswhite Series, and I was happy to receive a copy of it from Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

This one is structured like a braid, with three concurrent strands the death of a young African-American student, the legal wrangling over the suspect, who is on active duty at the local naval base, and the epidemic of heroin deaths in the area.

The novel opens with the first strand, a hit and run death of a young African-American on the streets of Seattle. The mystery surrounding his death goes on throughout the book, as Tracy investigates the suspect, who is stationed at the local naval base. The second strand follows his case as it begins to move through the legal systems (both naval and civilian), and he is apparently in the clear when a key piece of evidence goes missing. In the third strand, the suspect in the hit and run death turns out to be linked to a rash of recent deaths from a particularly potent batch of heroin, which is of special interest to Tracy’s fellow Detective, Delmo Castigliano (“Del”) , whose teenage niece has recently died of an overdose.

I was a bit turned off by an early line that states that Del’s niece “…started on marijuana at fifteen, progressed to prescription drugs, and, eventually became hooked on heroin.” Really? I thought, not the old “gateway drug” line??

In the afterword, Dugoni relates that he had “…always believed heroin addicts were people living in rodent-infested apartments.” In his research, he learned that many of them are “good kids from good families.” I appreciated the evolution of Del’s thinking about the war on drugs. Del’s thoughts match Dugoni’s: “People in these homes weren’t supposed to have sons and daughters hooked on heroin. The junkies were supposed to be downtown, living in dark alleys and abandoned buildings, sleeping on soiled mattresses amid garbage and rodents.” The book clarifies the explosion in heroin usage as tied to the legalization of marijuana in the U.S., because the Mexican cartels have seen a seriously diminished income from selling weed, and have turned to growing poppies instead, adding to the supply of cheap heroin in the States.

The story follows the various strands, tying everything together in a satisfying conclusion (with a tiny bit of what felt a bit like a contrived development in Tracy’s life revealed at the end). Along the way, we meet familiar characters (Tracy’s husband Dan, her co-workers Del and Faz, and JAG attorney Leah Battles, who I hope will appear in future installments in the series).

Excellent character development (particularly Del), plenty of twists and turns and Pacific Northwest atmosphere thrown in for good measure. Fans of the Tracy Crosswhite series will enjoy it (although it stands alone very well, so no need to feel you need to start earlier in the series to get what is going on…although I totally recommend this series!) Five stars.

 

 

The Trapped Girl by Robert Dugoni

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The Trapped Girl is the fourth novel in Robert Dugoni’s series featuring Seattle Detective Tracy Crosswhite. This one could easily be read on its own (not as part of the series), but I would recommend the entire series…events happen in the lives of the characters (especially Tracy) that affect subsequent storylines, and these are characters we come to know and care about, so trust me and start with My Sister’s Grave if you haven’t yet begun this series.

In this latest installment, a young man discovers a woman’s body submerged in a crab pot in the cold waters of Puget Sound. Tracy and her colleagues on the Seattle PD’s Violent Crimes Section have to first figure out who the victim is, then figure out who put her into the crab pot, and why. When the autopsy shows the victim has gone to great lengths (including extensive plastic surgery) to conceal her identity, Tracy knows she was running from someone or something.

Subsequently,evidence indicates the corpse may actually be the body of a woman who mysteriously disappeared some months earlier, and Tracy is once again haunted by the memory of her sister’s murder (featured in an earlier book in the series).

Clues start to appear that suggest a complex story involving “ brutal betrayal and desperate greed,” and Tracy once again becomes emotionally involved with the case of a murdered young woman.

I am a huge fan of Robert Dugoni’s series featuring Tracy Crosswhite. Each book in this series is a terrific thriller that will keep many readers guessing until the end. (I am not the best at figuring out the mystery before its reveal in contemporary mysteries and thrillers, so this may not be true for everyone, but it’s a great plot with outstanding character development. I give it five stars, with thanks to Thomas & Meercer and NetGalley for providing an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

In the Clearing by Robert Dugoni

IN THE CLEARING DUGONI COVER

My Sister’s Grave, the first book in Robert Dugoni’s Tracy Crosswhite series, came out in late 2014. I loved it. I thought Tracy was a smart, strong woman with fierce determination (evidenced by her dogged pursuit of her sister’s murderer). In fall of 2015, the second book in the series, Her Final Breath, made me realize that Robert Dugoni has a real talent for crime fiction and – not to be sexist—for getting the somewhat rare male mystery author who really and truly gets his female characters RIGHT. So I was extremely happy to have the opportunity to review the third title in this series, In the Clearing (thanks, NetGalley!)

Once again, Tracy Crosswhite, a Seattle police detective, gets involved in a case outside her own jurisdiction when a former police academy classmate asks for a favor. Following their time in the academy, Jenny Almond’s law enforcement career took her back to Klickitat County, Washington, where she followed in the footsteps of her late father, who had retired as sheriff in that county. Forty years ago, he was a new deputy investigating the death of Native American female high school student, Kimi Kanasket. Kimi was a star student and a hard worker whose body was found in the Salmon River after one night when she never made it home from the diner where she worked evenings. The case was ruled a suicide, but Jenny’s father never really believed the story. He had investigated the death as a new investigating deputy but was told by a higher-up in the Sheriff’s office to leave it alone. He kept records which led Jenny to think this cold case is worth looking into, and she asks Tracy for help.

Along the way, Tracy uncovers some deeply buried secrets involving both the ruling elite of the small town and members of the local Native American community, including Kimi’s parents. It’s impossible to say much more without giving away secrets that would spoil the terrific plot, but suffice it to say that Dugoni has proven again that he can develop multiple characters well enough that the reader feels they KNOW them, both male and female, young and old. Additionally, he manages complex plotting seamlessly – not an easy task but one where he continues to shine.

While it isn’t necessary to read the prior books in the series, as this one can stand alone, but I highly recommend the entire series (and there are some things about Tracy that are revealed in the earlier books that are more fully developed in this latest one).

I give it five stars: it held my interest, kept me guessing, was well written, and offered some unique perspectives on tribal life and culture. Looking forward to the next in the series!