Last year I reviewed a debut thriller by this author, The Stranger You seek (link here) which I thoroughly enjoyed though I freely admit I had my doubts at first when I saw that the heroine, Kyle Street, was an ex-cop and a recovering alchoholic with issues, but I have now realised that this is always going to be the case in this genre. I do wonder if there is such a thing as a happy Cop/Detective but the nature of the job must make this unlikely and it does make for interesting, on the edge characters. She has now written her follow up Stranger in the Room and it is a stonking read as was the first.
Keye runs her own Investigation Agency and in the first book consulted with the police department and, in particular, Lieutenant Aaron Rauser, who sounds gorgeous and he is now her partner. In my first review I said I immediately pictured George Clooney as this character and that remains the same which adds a frisson I freely admit. Both are about to set off for a weekend together when they receive a call that a young boy has been found strangled and, as Keye has a slightly less high profile case involving chicken feed being found in funeral urns instead of ashes to deal with, she sets off to investigate leaving Rauser to take charge of the murder scene.
The two cases gradually develop and run alongside one another. I did wonder for some time if the two were going to cross lines at one stage as this does sometimes happen, but Kyle Williams leads us along nicely and we are never sure. The chicken feed in the urn leads to something more ghastly and gruesome, but before Keye comes across the reason for the lack of ashes of the deceased, she rushes back to Atlanta to be with her cousin, Miki, a fragile, self harming photographer who has returned home and found a man in her house who threatens to shoot her. She is not taken seriously as she has a history of psychiatric problems, but when an elderly man is found murdered and left hanging on a door in her hallway, then the police and Keye realise something sinister is going on and that somebody is out to do her harm. OK and there I stop with plotlines as I don't want to give anything away.
I very much like the author's syle, it is sharp and witty "I run a little detective agency in Atlanta. And when I say little, I mean it's just me and my red eyed computer guy Neil Donovan. And when I say red-eyed I mean he probably smoked a joint with his scrambled eggs this morning"
I also love the description of the food. Keye's mum is a great cook and there is a description of some of her dishes that had me salivating while I read: "the passionate southern cook I'd grown up with regularly put her own flair on regional delicacies like spicy shrimp and grits. She grew poblano peppers in her own garden and stuffed them with cheese and cubed acorn squash she had sauteed in garlic. She skewered fresh peaches on cinnamon sticks and bathed them in bourbon and honey on the grill until their meat was sweet and smoky. She filled tiny pastry cups with goat cheese and home made lime curd and glass pitchers with sweet iced tea and fresh thyme..."I swear just reading that put an inch on my hips.
Hard to follow up a successful debut novel but Amanda Kyle Williams has done it and I am already looking forward to the next.