Doubleday | 2020
Opening Hook: Vega’s Bat-signal.
Main Character: Doing underwear yoga.
Plot Twisty-ness: Bringing that 2020 vibe.
I loved Louisa Luna’s first book, Two Girls Down, with a fiery passion that tingled my loins. Ew, don’t say loins.
But for real, I loved that book. It was one of my top five reads of 2018. So I was totally on board for a sequel because Alice Vega is one of the most bomb-ass female characters in crime fiction right now. That’s not an exaggeration.
I love her aloof, serous and damaged personality. I love that she does yoga in her underwear for breakfast and will do full body tackles of men twice her size without hesitation for lunch. She takes no shit, doesn’t play nice and has no tolerance for bullshit. Plus, she’s smart AF and every time she gets herself out of a tricky pickle I am mildly aroused. What I’m saying is, I want to be her when I grow up.
Her relationship with quasi-partner, retired detective Max “Cap” Caplan, is sexually tense at the right levels, but also romantic and sweet in an honest way – nothing mushy or easy, or even overly-dramatic that would make me hope they both die alone.
To be honest, this follow-up novel didn’t exactly pack the same punch for me. It’s still good, but something about it just lacked the It factor that made the first one pop my balloons, and I’m not talking about the creepy clown. Bill Skarsgard can give me a balloon any day, though, amiright?
This time around, Vega goes out to California and asks Cap to join when the bodies of two teen girls are found near San Diego. One of the girls has Vega’s name written on a piece of paper when she’s found, so the FBI brings the missing-person expert in to find out who the girls were and why they died. There’s this underlying suspicion that maybe Vega herself is a suspect because cops be fucking stupid like that sometimes. Turns out we get deep into sex trafficking, immigration, border crossing and lots of other real-world issues that are very apropos in this Twilight Zone version of 2020 that we find ourselves living in.
The writing is fast-paced, the plot points bring a feeling of constant action and movement, but the crime element wasn’t as gripping as the first for me, and occasionally the action moments were a bit over-the-top. Overall, I’m chalking up my rating to fatigue. I’m exhausted by the real-world terribleness that follows us every waking minute of every day and this book was more of that, so it just came to me at the wrong time.
Was it well-done, honest, true-to-life and socially relevant mixed with action? Completely! But the “kids in cages” storyline wasn’t what I needed in my life – even if Luna makes valid, not-preachy points about the American immigration situation and outlook. Reading it was a bit of a Debbie Downer. Everything sucks already and I can barely handle it at this point, so the escapism I’m craving needs to divert my brainpower away from that, not engage it even more or I might never mentally recover from this forsaken time.
What I did LOVE was Luna letting us into Vega’s life a little bit more. There were some small reveals about how she lives her life when she’s not doing her P.I. business that rounded out the character more – whether it was her fuck-buddy or her inner thoughts or the whys to her morning rituals. She’s still a major badass who has little time for emotions or relationships, and is partially just here for the money, but that doesn’t mean she needs to lack depth.
The dialogue is snappy and witty, the writing has just the perfect amount of description to build a world without over-saturating it, and the plot never stops moving.
The particular plot just didn’t possess the same magic that the first novel did. Still, if you can stand to read about sex trafficking and immigration during these times, it’s definitely a series to keep up with.
The electric follow-up to Louisa Luna’s acclaimed thriller Two Girls Down, featuring private investigators Alice Vega and Max Caplan.
On the outskirts of San Diego, the bodies of two young women are discovered. They have no names, no IDs, and no family looking for them. Fearing the possibility of a human trafficking ring, the police and FBI reach out to Alice Vega, a private investigator known for finding the missing, for help in finding out who the Janes were–and finding the others who are missing.
Alice Vega is a powerful woman whose determination is matched only by her intellect, and, along with her partner Cap, she will stop at nothing to find the Janes before it is too late.
Louisa Luna is writing new classics of crime fiction, and her partnership of Vega and Cap is rightfully joining the pantheon of the most memorable in crime fiction.