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The Ludlows are a hard-charging family, and patriarch Carl Ludlow treats his offspring like employees--which they are. But his daughter, Fina, is a bit of a black sheep. A law school dropout, her father keeps her in the fold as the firm's private investigator, working alongside her brothers.
Juggling her family of high-powered (and highly dysfunctional) attorneys, the cops and Boston's criminal element is usually something Fina does without breaking a sweat. But when her sister-in-law disappears, she's caught up in a case unlike any she's encountered before.
Carl wants things resolved without police interference, but the deeper Fina digs, the more impossible that seems. The Ludlows close ranks, and her brother Rand and his unruly teenage daughter Haley grow mysteriously distant from the family. As Fina unearths more dirt, the demands of family loyalty intensify. But Fina is after the truth--no matter the cost.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-03-25
- Reviewer: Staff
What starts, in Thoft’s dazzling first novel, as a missing-persons case for Boston PI Fina Ludlow—the search for her sister-in-law, Melanie—swells through layers of familial secrets, lies, and betrayals to something approaching Greek tragedy. The Ludlows’ dysfunctionality is no secret to Fina, the lone surviving daughter and nonlawyer in this clan of high-powered ambulance-chasers, for whom she works as an in-house investigator. When Fina digs into Melanie’s troubled marriage to her brother Rand, she begins to discover disturbing—and dangerous—links to the city’s criminal underbelly, from mobster Mark Lamont to Back Bay madam Bev Duprey. Fina’s two hunky friends with benefits, Det. Cristian Menendez and exotic masseur Milloy, join her on an adrenaline-pumping chase. Although Thoft tips her big bombshell too soon, readers will be eager to see more of smash-mouth Fina, a hard-boiled throwback equally comfortable shooting from the hip or the lip. Agent: Helen Brann, the Helen Brann Agency. (June)
Hot on the trail of three newbies
It’s always a pleasure to read books by longtime favorite authors, but finding a new writer who can keep you up all night is a special treat. Here are three new voices in crime fiction, each worthy of recognition.
Fina Ludlow could have taken the easy route—a cushy corporate gig with her family’s high-powered law firm—but it had the look of a velvet prison. Instead, she dropped out of law school and hung out her shingle as a private investigator. Grudgingly, her domineering father has kept her somewhat in the fold, utilizing her sleuthing talents whenever they are required for a first-class (read: underhanded) defense of a clearly guilty client. It is a matter of devotion, after all, that defines the family’s values and offers up the title of Ingrid Thoft’s engaging debut, Loyalty. When Fina’s sister-in-law abruptly disappears, the cops focus on the husband, Fina’s older brother Rand, who was seen carrying a large chest to his boat, then sailing off and returning with no chest to be found. Fina senses that there is more here than meets the eye, but she pursues the case out of familial obligation. Her allegiances will be tested, as will her detective skills, for it is likely that someone close to her is singularly undeserving of her loyalty.
Having lamented the disappearance of such complex and haunted stalwarts as John Rebus from the mystery pantheon, let us welcome a wonderfully troubled new entry, Barcelona police inspector Hector Salgado, in Antonio Hill’s The Summer of Dead Toys. The charge against Salgado: police brutality. The fallout: probation and self-imposed exile to his homeland of Argentina. Now, however, Salgado is back, and he needs a far-reaching case to take his mind off the savaged Nigerian girl and the sleazy human trafficker who provoked his uncharacteristically violent behavior. Instead, Salgado’s boss gives him an easy re-entry into the workforce, a no-brainer case of an accidental death (or perhaps suicide) of a young man who fell from an apartment window. That initial assessment doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny, however, and the case files quickly become littered with tales of drug deals gone sour, cover-ups protecting the rich and the resurfacing of crimes long buried. This fine debut will appeal to fans of Nesbø and Rankin, especially ones who enjoy a little Catalonian sunshine illuminating the darker corners of their mysteries.
Jonathan Holt’s gripping debut, The Abomination, book one of a planned trilogy, is unique in that it is set in two places in one time—sort of. Both settings are modern-day Venice: one, the beloved city; the other, a brick-by-brick cyber replication courtesy of a website called Carnivia, in which anonymous users can conspire and move information clandestinely throughout virtual Venice without government interference. Meanwhile, a highly unusual murder takes place. The victim is a woman dressed in the sacred robes of a Catholic priest—but the Catholic Church does not recognize female priests, and the corpse becomes known as “the Abomination.” The case is assigned to Captain Kat Tapo, who quickly finds her pursuit leading her in strange directions: to superannuated U.S. military bases, unforthcoming clerics and the convoluted virtual world of Carnivia. The Abomination is a tantalizing debut, a masterful melding of religious mystery, political intrigue and just a bit of fantasy/sci-fi.