Book Reviews

Book Review: But Not Forsaken by BJ Bourg – Dredging Up the Past

The third book in BJ Bourg’s series about Louisiana Police Chief Clint Wolf picks up nearly exactly after the events in the previous novel. One of his best officers, Susan Wilson, is under indictment for a shooting that was clearly self-defense and warranted. The district attorney, Bill Hedd, took a year to bring the case before the Grand Jury, but now she is off the squad as the wheels of justice turn slowly.

Clint can’t sleep until he gets her out of jail on bail, and then figures out why Bill Hedd is gunning for Susan. He enlists the help of his girlfriend, Chloe, who is a news reporter, trying to dig into Hedd’s background. While he’s working on that, he learns that the gang that murdered his wife and daughter, the Parker brothers, have been released on a technicality. Since he killed the youngest of the brothers on the day of his family’s mirder, they are gunning for him. He’s ready to take them on. When a bartender turns up murdered and it matches the Parker brothers modus operendi, he immediately shifts gears.

Susan’s mother turns up and tells Clint a story about seeing Hedd react negatively to a picture of Susan’s father, a former boxer who is deceased. This sends Clint to Tennessee for a conversation with her father’s best friend. Susan is reluctant to use anything he comes up with, though. She’s afraid of smearing her father’s good name. However, that could be the clue to spring an innocent man from jail.

But Not Forsaken is a book packed with lots of action and mystery. The Parker brothers are career criminals with no regard for anyone. They set out to basically wipe the town of Mechant Loup from the map and rack up a significant number of bodies while Clint and his officers try to stop them. There are some breakneck car chases and tense moments until everything erupts. While it would be easy to pin the murdered bartender on them as well, Clint isn’t so sure. He becomes even less sure when Chloe’s car is pulled from the swamp and she is stuffed in the trunk. He wants to believe the Parer brothers did it, but something just doesn’t sit right.

There really was no way to figure out the mystery until the end of the book. It turns out that Hedd’s wife Jolene was murdered many years before, and that there are actually a number of people who could have done it. This ties into what is happening now, as well as why Hedd has something against Susan. The book kept me on the edge of my seat with the twists and turns as well as the action. However, there was no way to know how it was going to end before I arrived there in the book.

Clint loses Chloe here, but he hardly seems affected by her death. Yes, there’s a sense that it’s another person he should have been able to protect and yet couldn’t. However, other than dreading telling her parents and going through the funeral, he doesn’t really seem to be impacted by the fact that his girlfriend was murdered. In fact, by the end of the book he’s already starting a new relationship.

I did enjoy the mystery here and the frantic pace of everything. The book moved along nicely, and the descriptions really made me feel like I could see the town and the swamps around it. It’s both desolate and beautiful, sort of like where I live. I don’t think But Not Forsaken stands on its own well. I’d recommend it as part of the series, though. If you like to be able to figure the mystery out ahead of the characters, I don’t think you can here.

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