A hard-to-put-down mix of thriller and police procedural…
Alligator Alley starts with a wrenching scene, as we watch a young DOJ agent, Andie Moore, first tailing, and then being caught and killed by two men, in the Everglades. And, as we learn shortly afterwards, the two are DOJ employees themselves – they are FBI agents, and thus not too concerned about being suspected or caught. However perhaps they should worry. It turns out that Andie’s boss in DC is the highly respected head of DOJ’s Oversight and Review Division, Henry Cantor, who pulls some strings to get both Joe DeMarco (the fixer for the Speaker of the House) and Emma (a now retired DIA spy) sent to Florida to investigate the case.
“What case?” you might say, since we, as readers, already know who did it. Well, we do and we don’t. It seems even their colleagues regard the two FBI guys as being too dumb to actually plan and pull off their crimes, so there must be someone else in the background helping them out. And for the rest of the book, author Mike Lawson does a really nice job of weaving together a thriller and a police procedural while Joe and Emma figure out who that person is – and then how to prove it and hold them accountable.
I’ve had my eye on this series for a while, but Alligator Alley was the first book I actually read. And although it’s usually not a good idea to start with the 16th of 16 titles in a series, I still really enjoyed it. The interplay between “non-stop-bulldozer” Emma, and “all-I-want-is-a-round-of-golf” Joe is a ton of fun, and I always enjoy protagonists with investigative chops. (You’ll both love and hate how Emma unlocks Andie’s iPhone…) And the ending, although almost as wrenching as the beginning, pulls all the threads together in a satisfying way.
Since I was reading the last book first, I did occasionally feel as if I were missing out on some bit of characterization or background. For example, I’m not quite sure why we never learn Emma’s last name. But all-in-all, Alligator Alley works just fine as a stand-alone, although I’ve now added the earlier books in the series to my too-long reading list. Sigh! And finally, my thanks to the publishers, Grove Atlantic, for the advance review copy!