“Don’t think you’re untouchable…you or your son.” Then a dial tone..
Shrewd, hardened New York homicide detective Jasmine (“Jazz”) Steele’s just come back from a grisly crime scene involving the body of a brutally-beaten young girl, the second she’s investigated this week. That was horrendous, but with these eight words, ending ominously in “your son,” Jazz’s immediate fear is for her vulnerable nephew, Chase, who’s already been through hell in his seven short years. In Kimberly Amato’s hard-boiled yet deeply emotional police procedural, no one is spared tough breaks and turbulent anguish. A lesser cop than Jazz would barely be able to cope.
A year ago, a gruesome car accident claimed the lives of her only brother and his wife, making her the de facto mother of 7-year-old Chase. The sudden household change ended in the loss of her life partner and still best friend, chic police psychologist Frankie, not to mention the dashing of Jazz’s lifelong dreams of becoming a successful mystery novelist. Now every day is a battle against Chase’s demons—and her own.
Quick reconnaissance reveals the call wasn’t a clever joke courtesy of Hadley, Frankie’s droll actress roommate, nor was it Victor, the wry police department coroner who happens to be Jazz’s confidante. Further detective work shows the caller wanted Jazz to find him—along with the fresh dead body he left for her in a Harlem warehouse.
With a shadow on Chase and the aid of Frankie’s grace-under-fire, not to mention Victor’s brandy-fueled heart-to-hearts, Jazz–who has more ‘tude than even the toughest investigator, male or female–navigates the cruel streets of New York City while struggling to keep custody of the only family she has left, doggedly in search of the elusive, psychopathic murderer who seems to be summarily killing off women who look suspiciously like someone close to Jazz… and she’s not willing to lose yet another person she loves.
Fans of the exciting new wave of hard-boiled women sleuths created by writers like Megan Abbott, Laura Lippmann, Lisa Lutz, and Vicki Hendricks will be attracted to the author’s take-no-prisoners style, and her unflinching attention to harrowing detail.
Yet lovers of traditional mysteries will appreciate the web of fierce loyalty tempered with fearful caution that links Jazz’s tiny but hardy support system—Victor, Frankie, and Hadley, not to mention Chase himself. Somehow or other, Amato manages to mix all the excitement of an action thriller with the swirling emotions of a mainstream psychological novel.
Those with a weakness for badass female cops like Mary Shannon of In Plain Sight and Olivia Benson of Law & Order SVU will revel in Jasmine Steele’s gritty determination laced with compassion. Readers of lesbian mysteries will be reminded of Sandra Scoppettone’s Lauren Laurano and Laurie R. King’s Kate Martinelli.
And it’s also a great read for fans of resilient heroines of psychological thrillers like Liz Keen of The Blacklist and Carrie Mathison of Homeland, who will love Jasmine Steele’s fearlessness, tinged with the very real emotional roller coaster of love turned to grief.
“(Amato) makes Detective Steele a winning female character, and… introduces comic relief at just the right moments. This is very fine writing by a lady who knows the idiom!”
–Grady Harp, San Francisco Review of Books