Doubleday | 2018
So I’m just going to say it: Favourite read of 2018 so far!
Omg, heart-eyes for Louisa Luna!
This was just so much fun, a pretty perfect example of what a crime thriller-whodunnit should be.
I would love this to be a series featuring the enigmatic bounty hunter/P.I. Alice Vega. Not a lot was revealed about her, just enough for you to know her without knowing her. There is still a lot of space to grow with Vega; more story that can be told.
The minute she popped onto the page I knew I was in fictional love. Vega is damaged and snarky and ruthless, smart and cynical, with a short bullshit fuse. She has no problem beating the shit out of her “skips”, or using her talent of mental warfare to get her way. She’s just a tough-as-nails Queennnn.
And when I grow up I want to be just like her.
The gist is: two little girls, ten-year-old Kylie and eight-year-old Bailey, go missing from a strip mall parking lot when their mother runs into a store, for just a minute. And I mean, how many times do we do this as adults? My mother used to that to my sister and I all the timeeee. I loved how such a simple, common action, one that I could identify with, was used as a plot device, a turning point for when the bad shit happens. Makes you think.
The police are understaffed, underfunded and overworked. Time to find the girls is running out, so the family hires Vega to find them. She has a reputation for finding people when the police can’t.
“So you find missing people, that right? How many you found so far?”
“How many times you been hired is the real question?”
“How many of them were kids?”
Vega stood up and said, “Most of them.”
“When you found them, were they alive, or what?”
Vega looked her right in the eyes and said, “Sixteen alive. One dead. And one alive but” – she tapped her head – “dead.”
Vega hires local PI, and disgraced former cop, Max ‘Cap’ Caplan to help her in her dogged pursuit of finding the two girls alive. Cap was a fantastic counterpoint for Vega – his quiet logic and thoughtful actions were exactly what Vega needed to smooth out her violent reactions and impulsive moves. Cap’s relationship with his daughter, Nell, was sweet and fun – the maturity and openness reminding me a bit of Bosch and Maddie on Bosch – and brought a grounding element to the otherwise dramatic, non-stop sequence of events.
I also appreciate how Luna created a sense of attraction between Cap and Vega, but it stayed rational within the context of the situation, and never turned into an actual romance. It felt human and honest and complicated like real relationships.
This is a very fast-paced read, like my fingers and eyes are burning. The investigation took so many different avenues, I never got bored. There was no lag in the pace for me, no moments where the story didn’t seem to be moving towards something, no pointless filler scenes or a character’s “thinking in the shower” chapter that filled me with a sense of rage. GET OUT OF THE SHOWER I DON’T CARE.
This was well thought-out, well-plotted – Luna knew exactly what she was doing, the story she was telling and how much of the characters she wanted to share.
The only thing I was missing was my preferred level of detail. I don’t like bare minimalism and I don’t like over saturated. Somewhere in the middle is my sweet spot. I want to know how someone’s hair looks, and what clothes they choose to wear to express their character. I don’t want to just assume they have hair and clothes, but I also don’t need to know the colour of every highlight or the brand of their clothes and the fit of the seams and every accessory they chose.
This book was just a tad too minimalist for me. There was a deliberate holding back of who Vega is as a person, and I understand that choice as an author if your plan is to turn this into series – but if I can’t have more personal information, I need to know some of the other stuff. So, in that sense, this was definitely lacking in that rating category.
So, minus a half star…
This book was alive to me. I loved it.
When two young sisters disappear from a strip mall parking lot in a small Pennsylvania town, their devastated mother hires an enigmatic bounty hunter, Alice Vega, to help find the girls. Immediately shut out by a local police department already stretched thin by budget cuts and the growing OxyContin and meth epidemic, Vega enlists the help of a disgraced former cop, Max Caplan. Cap is a man trying to put the scandal of his past behind him and move on, but Vega needs his help to find the girls, and she will not be denied.
With little to go on, Vega and Cap will go to extraordinary lengths to untangle a dangerous web of lies, false leads, and complex relationships to find the girls before time runs out, and they are gone forever.