C. K. Crigger
Black Opal Books, October 2017
From the publisher—
Former soldier, Frankie McGill has returned home from Afghanistan minus half of her left foot and with a plate in her head. After some months in medical care, she’s ready to take on the new battle of finding and holding a job. But not just any job. Frankie is a combat-trained paramedic. When all she can find is a position in the small, mostly volunteer fire department of her old hometown, Frankie is immediately plunged into much more than dealing with her own trauma and holding down a job. She moves into a duplex that the previous tenant abruptly abandoned and quickly discovers someone has some dark secrets to hide–and they don’t care who they have to kill to keep them hidden. Will Frankie’s military training and experience be enough to save her life?
Most of us are fortunate enough to never know the troubles that come with either PTSD or wounds incurred in war but it’s good for us to at least see it secondhand and, hopefully, develop an understanding of what our returning veterans face. With Frankie, author C. K. Crigger gives us that opportunity.
In the opening paragraphs, we get a first glimpse of who Frankie is, a woman who is doing her best to put her life back together, starting with a job that fits her capabilities as a paramedic while letting her keep to herself to a certain extent. Her own hometown should bring her the peace she craves and the time for healing or so she thinks…small towns have a way of holding secrets that can be deadly as she soon learns, at home and on the job.
Frankie’s new place gives her the “collywobbles” but it’ll do for her and Banner, her rescue Samoyed, although it’s odd that the previous tenant left literally in the middle of the night. Then they find that somebody apparently had an unhealthy interest in the apartment and in Denise, the tenant. The next day, Banner becomes so agitated he wakes up Frankie and alerts Howie, the next door neighbor. Digging a hole under the flimsy fence, he leads Frankie and Howie to a small tragedy, another item on a growing list of troubling facts.
Frankie is a very appealing young woman, aged immeasurably by her experiences in Afghanistan but fighting to recover some semblance of her former self. Coming back to her hometown means reconnecting with people from her past and those familiar folks become even more important when whatever happened in her apartment begins to ensnare Frankie. I liked this little town and its citizens, even those who aren’t necessarily bright shining citizens, and the county deputy sheriff, Gabe Zantos, is a really nice addition to Frankie’s life. Frankie has a mystery to solve, not because it’s her job, but because it’s in her nature to find answers. Those answers are complex and disturbing and become very dangerous for her but Frankie is no weak-kneed maiden. I want to spend more time in Frankie’s world and really hope to see her again soon.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2018.