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.