In Harm’s Way
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2010
This is a very complex novel, with the plot criss-crossing along with the unfathomable emotions of the various characters, much of them unexplained and merely put forward in exposition. Also unusual are the almost non-existent descriptions of beautiful Sun Valley and its environment, expected in a Sheriff Walt Fleming story, as this is.
The first puzzler to arise is at the start of the novel, when Fiona, Walt’s part-time crime photographer and newfound love interest, rescues a child from a frigid river, becoming a hero. She begs Walt to prevent publication of her picture, offering no explanation. It’s obvious she has something to hide, but we do not learn what it is until it really no longer matters. Also, she doesn’t seem to be an interesting person, and as a deeper relationship develops between the two, one scratches one’s head: Am I missing something here? Other than pure sex, where’s the attraction? [Or is that naïve?]
Then there is the introduction of Lou Boldt, Seattle detective and a favorite protagonist from other novels, into the plot. Other than to flaunt a past “beloved” series character, it really adds nothing to a mystery which seems to be wrapped in several enigmas, and serves little purpose. The mystery itself involves a few murders and break-ins which, of course, must be solved.
While a Ridley Pearson novel is always well-written, it would appear that this one could have used some pruning, simplification and less obfuscation. This reader, at least, found it slow reading. Nonetheless, it is recommended.
Reviewed by Ted Feit, November 2010.