Thursday, January 13, 2022

ARC Review: Desolation Canyon by P. J. Tracy

Desolation Canyon

P. J. Tracy
Series: Detective Margaret Nolan (Book 2)
Publication: Minotaur Books (January 18, 2022)

Description: P.J. Tracy “seems to have found her literary sweet spot” (New York Times Book Review) with her dazzling new series, and in Desolation Canyon, fans get a deeper look into the complex characters who call Los Angeles home.

LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan is struggling to move forward after the death of her brother in Afghanistan and taking a life in the line of duty. Her stoic parents offer little support – they refuse to address anything difficult, and she’s afraid their relationship is eroding beyond the point of recovery.

The days off are the hardest, because they give Margaret time to think. A moment of weakness leads to cocktails with a colleague―an attraction she knows could be dangerous ―at the luxurious Hotel Bel-Air bar. A stroll through the grounds leads to a grim discovery beneath the surface of Swan Lake: the body of a successful attorney who made his fortune in international trade.

It initially appears to be death by misadventure, but the case is anything but straightforward. As a series of shocking revelations emerge, Nolan finds herself confronting a sinister cabal that just might destroy her and everyone she loves.

My Thoughts: This is the second thriller starring Detective Margaret Nolan. She is dealing with the death of her brother in Afghanistan and taking a life in the line of duty. She is also dealing with her parents, especially her mother, who isn't dealing with the loss of her son at all well. 

Nolan decides to give in to a bit of weakness and go for a drink with a colleague at the luxurious Hotel Bel-Air. Unfortunately, crime rears its head when she and Remy discover a body in the Swan Lake on the grounds. There are lots of questions about why the lawyer who worked in international business was at the hotel and why he died there. 

Nolan and her partner go to interview the lawyer's boss and discover a Russian who is the head of a large import-export business who give Nolan the creeps. When they go to notify the lawyer's alcoholic ex-wife, they find that she has been murdered and had her eyes gouged out. 

Meanwhile Sam Eaton is running in the desert and gradually getting over the PTSD that came home with him from Afghanistan. When he stops to buy snacks at a small convenience store, he learns that the owner has gone to LA to spend some time on his boat and left a young man who is sure the area has been overtaken by aliens in charge. 

When Sam tracks down the owner on his boat, he learns that Lenny has helped a young woman and her small daughter escape from the Children of the Desert enclave, which hosts spiritual retreats. However, someone has kidnapped the woman and child from the boat. Sam and Remy, who has been searching for someone he feared was at the COD complex, team up to find them.

The Children of the Desert complex also draws Nolan's attention because her mother has chosen to attend a retreat there. It is also showing up in other parts of her murder investigation. 

The story is filled with Russian mobs, illegal drugs and arms, human trafficking, and an egomaniacal preacher. Meanwhile, Nolan, Sam, and Remy are all trying to work through personal issues while trying to find missing persons and solve murders. 

There are numerous plot threads and sections from different points of view which weave together the various elements of the story and give the information needed to solve the crime. I liked trying to figure out the story, even though the Russian names and nicknames almost made me want to grab a note pad to try to keep track of who was who. 

I liked getting to know more about the characters I met in the first book in this series but don't feel that reading that book is needed to enjoy this one. 

Favorite Quote:
Despite Remy's optimism, slam dunk investigations were as likely as a unicorn in a herd of mustangs. Clearing a case required arduous information gathering that would eventually form a revelatory landscape of the deceased's life and death. Dot-to-dot, Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. 
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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