Book Review: A Dangerous Harbor by RP Dahlke

A Dangerous Harbor
R.P. Dahlke
Dead Bear Publishing, October 2011

Katrina “Katy” Hunter, on involuntary leave from the San Francisco Police Department, is sailing her beloved boat towards Mexico when she finds a young girl caught in a patch of sea grass. Following protocol, she calls the Mexican Navy and, hours later, is still being held at the Ensenada police station, at the mercy of the slow-moving local cops. Chief Inspector Raul Vignaroli finally makes an appearance and instantly raises Katy’s irritation level when he seems to think of her as a suspect. Suspect in what? Was the girl murdered?

A piece of Katy’s past comes to light when Gabe walks into the police station and back into her life after many years.  Clearly, Gabe is on the detective’s list of murder suspects but he is released for the time being and Katy makes it clear she wants nothing to do with him despite his charm and his plea for understanding and belief that he is not guilty of this particular crime.

With a little strong-armed persuasion from the inspector, Katy agrees to be his eyes and ears in Marina Mar under the premise that the occupants of the docked boats are more likely to talk to a fellow American but it doesn’t take long for her to realize that everyone seems to know she’s a cop. That changes her approach but increases her interest in the case. Unfortunately, it also leads to her being a victim herself. Muddying the waters is a steadily growing attraction to Raul who has his own secrets.

There are a few construction errors, such as occasional brief changes of font and one chapter written in a different tense, and one has to wonder what a “goosey looking” man might be or why the only available soft drink is always Coke. These quibbles are overshadowed by a head-scratching crime and an entertaining collection of characters, among them a very rich man, his golddigger girlfriend, a handsome captain, some apparently lowlife hangers-on, a magician and his assistant and some engaging local citizens. The result is a very enjoyable read and I’d like to see Katrina and friends again.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2012.