March 21, 2017

Family troubles

By Becky Masterman
Review by

In A Twist of the Knife, Becky Masterman ventures into intriguing new terrain with the third installment in her exciting crime series.

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In A Twist of the Knife, Becky Masterman ventures into intriguing new terrain with the third installment in her exciting crime series.

Hardheaded FBI agent turned PI Brigid Quinn darkened readers’ doorways previously in Rage Against the Dying (2013) and Fear the Darkness (2015), and she’s back again, barreling through a new investigation as she heads from her Arizona home to Florida to offer support and assistance to her former partner, Laura Coleman. Coleman is volunteering with a legal group that’s trying to prove the innocence of death row inmate Marcus Creighton, convicted of killing his wife and three kids.

You might think that Brigid, newly married and pushing 60, would have lost some of her rough edges to the call of love, but there’s none of that—though she’s happily married to Carlo, who seems downright saint-like at times. As for Brigid, she’s as opinionated as ever and figures that Creighton, given his past criminal record, probably isn’t innocent. She heads off to Laura’s aid, with the added excuse that her father is ill in a Fort Lauderdale hospital, and she can do double duty by spending time with her parents. The story is enhanced by intriguing characters including Shayna Murry, Creighton’s mistress, who hasn’t provided the alibi Creighton needs; fingerprint expert Tracy Mack, who has screwed up some cases in the past; and determined, steely Alison Samuels, a child abuse specialist who’s conducting an intensive search for traces of the Creighton kids, whose bodies were never found. Brigid’s cop brother, Todd, adds another layer to her family scene as he becomes involved in the Creighton case.

Ultimately, A Twist of the Knife is equal parts crime thriller and family drama. Oddly, Brigid projects a very narrow comfort zone for a cop who should know better when it comes to family dysfunction. Food fills the gaps in family togetherness—what else is new? “Mom never said what she meant”—join the club. Brigid, an otherwise strong character, often seems unable to roll with the blows or have much understanding of her own role in the family drama. Her stubbornness looks more like a cover for her own inability to connect.

Masterman’s writing is both satisfying and spare. The dialogue is brisk and realistic, and the story has a roller-coaster quality and a headlong pace, as readers are once again kept in suspense about what the volatile Brigid will get up to next.

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A Twist of the Knife

A Twist of the Knife

By Becky Masterman
ISBN 9781250074515

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