In Tracy Clark’s Cover, hard-boiled Chicago detective Harriet Foster is on the hunt for a serial killer with a lethal affinity for redheads. Here is Janet Webb’s evaluate!
Chicago is the place thriller author Tracy Clark lives. She stands tall on the shoulders of earlier Black detective authors saying merely, “These black writers, these pioneers, did the heavy lifting.” Clark is just too modest—she’s a reasonably first rate heavy lifter herself. I reviewed Runner, the fourth in Clark’s Chicago Thriller sequence, in 2021. Cover once more takes readers into the center of Chicago, with all its eccentricities and delights. It’s an escapist thriller at its finest with a frisson of horror.
Elyse is out for a morning run. At thirty-eight, train isn’t an choice if she needs to take care of a measurement six without end. She spots an enormous pile of leaves, which is odd as a result of there aren’t a whole lot of bushes alongside Chicago’s Riverwalk. Even weirder, a foot is protruding. At first, Elyse thinks it’s some fool’s sick early Halloween joke. It’s not:
Her scream tore by way of the morning just like the screech of a thousand crows. Elyse backed away, her coronary heart pounding, after which she ran again alongside the trail the best way she’d come, each alarm in her physique clanging as panic overtook her.”
Elyse is so discombobulated she drops her telephone. On the best way up stairs resulting in avenue stage, she spots a Black man sitting on the bottom, his head on his chest, a spot of blood on his jacket. Elyse screams time and again earlier than lastly dropping to her ft and calling 911.
Similar Monday morning: 0800 hours. Detective Harriet Foster is rooted in entrance of CPD’s District One constructing at Seventeenth and State. People expect her inside, however she’s frozen with anxiousness:
This was her first day again from go away, the primary day on a brand new staff. There can be a brand new boss, a brand new desk, a brand new . . . associate. Nothing she felt gave her any indication that she was prepared, not one single factor. Solely eight weeks had handed because it occurred, eight weeks that felt extra like eight seconds.
Detective Foster doesn’t suppose she’ll ever be able to return to work. Why did her feminine associate commit suicide? If Harriet knew Glynnis and her household so properly, why didn’t she see indicators of psychological misery? Survivor’s guilt is a heavy burden. She will be able to’t cease desirous about it:
Glynnis had been a superb cop, a embellished cop, they usually had labored eleven years collectively like well-oiled gears in a high-performance machine. After Foster had misplaced her solely son, Reg, to a thug with a gun who’d demanded his bike, a painful divorce had adopted. Amid all of the ache, Glynnis had helped her keep sane.
And now Harriet is in a brand new cop squad—with all its familiarities: scarred desks, CPD insignia all over the place, the stench of burnt espresso, and sweaty cops who’d seen greater than any human ought to have the misfortune of seeing. Her new boss, Sergeant Sharon Griffin, appears by-the-book, together with her straight posture and “blue eyes as sharp as Arctic ice,” however she acknowledges Harriet’s abilities:
“I’ve simply been going over your personnel file once more. Strong profession, which is why you’re right here and never out within the boon docks answering nuisance calls about rabid squirrels. Commendations. Strong management abilities. Spectacular clearance price.” She regarded Foster over once more.
“I intend to faucet these management abilities. I would like you out in entrance.” She paused. “How’re you doing?”
Foster had no concept how one can reply the query. How was she doing? She was right here. She’d gotten by way of the entrance door. Her masks was on.
Sergeant Griffin is no one’s idiot—she is aware of Harriet is struggling however she additionally sees the metal in her backbone: she tells her to not endure in silence, however then pairs her up with Jim Lonergan. That is the place Cover reveals a vein of ironic, darkish cop humor. Harriet’s new boss tells her Jim Lonergan is “an asshole, however he’s serviceable.” He actually doesn’t make a superb first impression on his new associate. The 2 of them are assigned to research the physique of a girl on the Riverwalk. It doesn’t shock Harriet that Lonergan assumes the Black man seen sitting on the steps is the assassin, however she’s not like him: Harriet’s conclusions are evidenced based mostly.
There you could have it. Two intersecting tales—a useless girl and the detectives assigned to her case. It’s no peculiar useless physique: Two particulars stick out—the lady is a younger redhead, and there’s pink lipstick encircling her wrists and ankles. When one other physique is discovered with the identical telltale traits, Harriet thinks she’s coping with a serial killer. This principle is strengthened when an over-enthusiastic and considerably creepy psychologist shares particulars with Harriet about Bodie Morgan: a troubled man with a twisted previous and a penchant for fairly younger redheads with the bluest eyes.
Cover is sort of a mashup of Silence of the Lambs and Hillstreet Blues. The private and the skilled intertwine convincingly. Readers will root for Detective Harriet Foster to resolve the case and settle into a brand new work-home the place’s she appreciated and dealing at full throttle. We’ll learn how that’s getting into Fall, the second Detective Harriet Foster Guide, which comes out in December 2023. I’m trying ahead to it.
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