Book Review: Cold Trail by Janet Dawson

Cold TrailCold Trail
A Jeri Howard Mystery #11
Janet Dawson
Perseverance Press, April 2015
ISBN: 978-1-56474-555-2
Trade Paperback

California private investigator Jeri Howard is an experienced creation of her well-traveled author, Janet Dawson. Her cases have covered a wide range of criminals and misdeeds, but this one hits close to home. Too close. Her younger brother is missing, feared dead in a gas-fueled boat explosion. The body also carries a fatal bullet. The scene at the morgue where Howard must view the body is a well-done, emotional high.

Thereafter, having been unable to identify the body, Howard mounts an independent effort to find her brother. The long and winding trail to a resolution requires Howard to interact with several central California law enforcement agencies, some business types, a couple of lawyers, several generations of her family and other assorted characters. And therein lies the simple flaw in this novel.

The plot is well-conceived, the criminals are truly criminal, and everybody seems to act in logical, well-thought out actions. However the story covers large areas of Sonoma County, necessitating our P.I. to travel to many places, almost all of which are lovingly detailed. At times I thought we were in a travelogue.

Caught up in the details of getting her protagonist from one interview to another, there is a curious lack of emotion at times. Yes, P.I. Howard is an experienced professional and of course she has to keep it together while tracing her brother, if she’s going to locate and rescue him before he too is murdered, but I thought Howard’s demeanor at times was a little too tightly controlled. Nevertheless, the writing is good, things move along and the resolution is everything one expects in this kind of crime novel.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, September 2015.
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

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