Clint Wolf is a survivor. He’s survived an unimaginable horror that took his wife and daughter and left him broken. Two years later, he’s trying to rebuild his life. His former father-in-law helps him secure the position of Chief of Police in a small Louisiana town, Mechant Loup. The biggest problem there is usually writing speeding tickets for the tourists.
On his first day, he is confronted with an alligator problem. The alligator is described as enormous and has taken someone’s dog. Clint goes out into the swamp with the local gator wrangler and promptly ends up marooned in the swamp. When a gator turns up with a human arm that doesn’t belong to the gator wrangler, as feared, Clint finds himself in the middle of a mystery that threatens to tear the town apart.
I really enjoyed this mystery. Clint Wolf is someone I could sympathize with as he beats himself up over and over for the death of his wife and daughter. He feels as if he could have prevented it, when in reality, who knows if that’s the case. Still, someone in that stage of grief will fixate on things they could have done differently that might have produced a different result, and often get “stuck” because of it. Clint does a pretty good job hiding his struggle from his new police force, but it’s there when he goes home at night.
Those additional characters on the police force add quite a bit to the story. In particular, the lone female officer, Susan, more than holds her own opposite Clint. She’s an amateur boxer and martial arts expert rather than being a woman in need of rescuing. The other characters are also interesting, and I look forward to more stories involving them in the series. The book wraps up the central mystery, but there are some loose ends that will likely be picked up in the next book.
The mystery at the center kept me guessing for a while. About halfway through, I figured out a good part of it, but it kept me reading. This is well written with a good pace and good characterizations. Clint working through grief and blame is realistic, as is what he experiences from those around him. Bourg manages to capture the absurdity of life in the swamp without making it ridiculous and the result is a very entertaining story. As with most small towns, there’s more beneath the surface than meets the eye. Clint isn’t afraid of stepping on toes, but that may also be his downfall. Does he have a death wish after losing his family so tragically? Maybe, but that also makes him a good detective as he’s not afraid of the consequences.
One of the aspects of these murder mystery series that I get tired of is a character doing something stupid that someone in their position wouldn’t normally do, but the author needs them to do it to get to the next plot point. I didn’t find any of that here. It’s a good mystery, well-paced, with plenty of clues as to what’s going on. I didn’t know the whole truth until the end and it’s pretty plausible, especially with the current environment in this country. A few years ago, I might have had trouble believing this could happen, but not anymore. It’s a great read and you don’t have to be from Louisiana to enjoy it!
Categories: Book Reviews