Amazon discontinued the ability to create images using their SiteStripe feature and in their infinite wisdom broke all previously created images on 12/31/23. Many blogs used this feature, including this one. Expect my archives to be a hot mess of broken book cover images until I can slowly comb through 20 years of archives to make corrections.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Review: Fall

Book Cover = Fall
Fall by Tracy Clark is the second book in her Detective Harriet Foster series for Amazon's Thomas & Mercer imprint. I'm still a bit put-out that Clark's Cass Raines private detective series for Kensington seems to be put on ice, but the Foster books have been an enjoyable consolation prize and once I found the spoons to start reading I zipped through this in 24 hours.

Marin Shaw is getting out of prison after 3 long years. A former city alderman she was locked up for corruption, managed to get sober behind bars (she's an alcoholic) and she didn't take anyone down with her - which she most certainly could have. Marin knows where some bodies are buried.  Needless to say her getting out is big news - to the press who smell blood in the water and to her fellow aldermen who are worried she's out for her pound of flesh. However all Marin really cares about is repairing her relationship with her young daughter and divorcing her sack of crap husband.  Then, well, the bodies start dropping. 

The first alderman is found shot to death in a parking garage. The second one, stabbed to death in his office. Found with the bodies are baggies filled with 30 dimes. Harriet Foster has caught the case and while both dead aldermen were connected to Marin it feels too neat. There's also the minor problem that they don't have a ton of hard evidence to make an arrest stick to her.  The powers that be are at full froth and the pressure is on to make an arrest - but are the dead bodies tied to Marin's case or is it something else entirely the police aren't seeing?

Half the joy in Clark's books is that they're set in the city of Chicago, and she writes about the city well. However, rather unbelievably, this is the first of her books to really mine political corruption - which is about as Chicago as Irish cops, Chicago dogs, and Wrigley Field. Needless to say, I fell into the plot pretty hard and there was just enough political sleaze on the page to keep me invested. Normally I'm not a huge fan of politics in my entertainment because, hello, real life - but when political bodies are dropping, well I'm only human after all.

The mystery hums along well and while Marin is the obvious suspect the author takes the narrative on a few twists.  That said, I did have a pretty good idea from the jump who our murderer was and it spins out to a climactic, albeit slightly unhinged, finish.

What didn't work so well for me was the introduction to a secondary plot thread planted, I suspect, for the third book in the series. Harriet's former partner committed suicide, leaving behind a husband and two sons. Harriet and her partner's widower start receiving threats, and whoever it is wants to leverage Harriet to do his dirty bidding (presumably fix cases, make evidence disappear etc.) in exchange for the safety of Glynnis' children. It doesn't go much of anywhere in this book and honestly takes focus away from the main storyline.  Also, if I'm being honest, I'm still butt-hurt that this tactic was employed in the fourth book of the Cass Raines series and a fifth book has yet to appear - and likely won't for a long while (if ever).  The Raines series was published by Kensington, and Clark now seems wrapped up in this Foster series for Amazon.  So yes, I have baggage.  On the bright side, as of the time of this posting, Amazon does have a listing for the third book in this series, slated for next December. Hopefully that release date will stick.

I didn't like this one as much as the first book in the series, but I still enjoyed it. The story was strong, the sense of place was dynamite, and Harriet is capable, smart, with underlying vulnerabilities that make her interesting.  I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

Final Grade = B-


azteclady said...

"Normally I'm not a huge fan of politics in my entertainment because, hello, real life - but when political bodies are dropping, well I'm only human after all."

When I tell you that I guffawed....

Re: Cass Raines, I hope it's not the case, but it may not be on the author: Kensington seems to drop series mid stream more than other publishers, don't they?

Wendy said...

Politicians and influencers in my fiction reading - those bodies better be dropping. Honestly, in Real Life I'm a fairly sweet person!

Sigh, I'm not sure re: Kensington. I do know that series has won the author a few awards, but as we know awards don't always translate to sales etc. I'm hoping she comes back to it because 1) female private investigate and 2) heavy dose of Found Family. I'm a sucker for both.

azteclady said...

As I'm hoping to get to them soon myself, fingers crossed the author keeps both series going.