Who’s really the victim, and who’s just “collateral damage”?
I had somehow missed out on the last few Ali Reynolds books, so I was happy to receive a review copy of the newest book in the series, Collateral Damage. And I found that all of the elements that I like in JA Jance’s books are still there: a smooth plot; interesting protagonists, including a scary smart AI; and nasty, but still believable, villains.
As the book opens, Ali’s husband, B. Simpson, is involved in an automobile wreck on his way to the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport. But although it becomes clear rather quickly that the collision was no accident, it’s far from clear which of the two men in the car was the intended victim and which was just “collateral damage”. The Arizona Highway Patrolman on the case, the somewhat oafish Detective Biba, is convinced that, as the head of an up-and-coming cybersecurity firm, B. was the target, and thus Ali, as B.’s nearest-and-dearest, is his main suspect. But Ali and the other High Noon employees aren’t so sure. After all, it seems quite possible that B.’s airport driver (and retired cop), Hal Holden, might have picked up quite a few enemies himself in his 25-year stint with the Pasadena Police Department.
Jance does a really nice job weaving together the many strands of the story, told from wildly different points of view. And although we, as readers, are given a pretty good idea about whodunnit early on, it’s still fascinating to watch as several police forces and investigators manage to piece together a puzzle that spans many different jurisdictions – with some crucial behind-the-scenes help from the High Noon folks.
All-in-all, I really enjoyed this latest foray into the Ali Reynolds series, and highly recommend it – especially for anyone who likes police procedurals. My only small beef is that a couple of threads didn’t seem to me to get wrapped up very well. First, it would have been nice to see Biba have to eat his words a bit at the end, when it becomes clear that, in fact, B. was not the target, and Ali was not the perpetrator. But there’s just a passing mention that Biba will get notified, and nothing more. And the other thread that it might have been nice to see a bit more of was what happened to the obnoxious Adrian Willoughby after High Noon’s Cami Lee puts her thumb on the scale. We’re sure something bad is going to happen to him. But it would have been fun to actually see it happen, and even get to gloat a bit. But those two issues are sort of minor, and so, although I thought about taking a 1/2 star off, in the end, I didn’t…and Collateral Damage gets 5 stars from me.
And finally, my thanks to the publisher, Gallery Books, for the review copy.