by Ron Handberg
Jessica Mitchell, a recently hired reporter Minnesota television station, is on scene when authorities remove the body of a dead man from the river.
Later, she discovers the man was a rapist who never served time for his crime. Investigating the case, Jessica runs across past murders, with all of the victims involved with sexual crimes. With the help of an aging cop struggling with alcoholism, Jessica pursues the killers while being hampered by a formidable police officer and a stalwart prosecuting attorney. And she has to deal with a pesky child molester and also her sister, who was recently raped.
This is another version of The Star Chamber with a group that determines the fate of criminals who didn’t receive punishment for committed crimes. No surprises who the ‘bad guys’ are. Still, a powerful story dealing with a heinous crime.
Jessica Mitchell: Rookie reporter for television station in Minneapolis, short brown hair, photographic memory, grew up in small town, worked at a Duluth TV station for two years, drives a beat up ’77 Impala, has a younger sister, has a half moon-shaped birthmark on neck
Freda Brinkman: Lieutenant in Homicide, tall, auburn hair, long and slender face, was abused both physically and sexually as a child, has an abhorrence for men, drives a Pontiac
Matt Meecham: 63, Homicide Captain, cigar smoker, alcoholic, big man, wife died in a car accident he caused while drunk, has a son who ran away after accident, plays cribbage, owns two Siamese cats
Sarah Andrews: County prosecutor, early 30’s, model beautiful, women’s movement activist, law degree from University of Minnesota, parents and younger brother live in Ohio, drives a Honda
Very good characters. Very strong. The secondary characters, such as Sarah’s roommate and Jessica’s sister, both rape victims, are well presented with believable personalities.
Everybody comes through with distinctive voices. Tight conversations. No lectures or long soliloquies.
A few instances of profanity. There is a mild description of a rape scene but nothing too graphic. Nothing to do with Handberg’s writing, but the copy of the book I have has small print and was a challenge to read. Otherwise, he does a good job of revealing a little bit more as the story progresses. As I mentioned, there are no surprises as to the cabal of criminals because they are revealed long before the halfway point. I did enjoy the progression and change each character experiences. This is what makes a good book, that the characters are not static but evolve throughout a story.