Tuesday, November 10, 2015


COLD MOON by Alexandra Sokoloff (Thomas & Mercer, 2015)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

The tremendously thrilling third book in Sokoloff's excellent series hurtles readers along dark and lurid streets into the grimy realities of teen runaways turned 'working girls'

Special Agent Matt Rourke is a conflicted man. Perhaps needing to heal emotionally as much as physically, he is recovering from the violent climax in BLOOD MOON, which led at last to the capture of Cara Lindstrom, a female killer he feels drawn to, despite her crimes.

Vicious crimes, if understandable ones.

Cara is in custody at last, but Rourke has been hiding things from his friends and colleagues, increasing the unease he feels. And the killings of 'bad men' haven't stopped...

Rourke's San Francisco-based FBI team has to hustle to work out just what's going on as murdered pimps and johns start to speckle the city's grimy red light districts. Cara's behind bars, for now at least, but it seems she isn't the only one looking to exact revenge on men who abuse women and children.

Sokoloff does a fine job crafting a propulsive storyline that has the pages whirring, while leaving the reader as conflicted about events as Rourke is himself. Should we, or he, want Cara freed, even if she'll kill again?

The world is full of some very bad people, but where's the line that to cross deserves death? Is vigilante justice okay, as long it's enacted on those who use and abuse? Is it okay for people to do bad things, as long as it's for good reasons? And 'good' to who - where's the line between 'bad' and 'evil'?

Sokoloff crafts a fine thriller that hurdles higher than a straightforward page-turner. COLD MOON is full of interesting characters and exciting events that fascinate and entertain while being read, but the book lingers beyond its final page thanks to several thought-provoking issues. 'Enjoyed' may not be the right word, but I particularly appreciated how Sokoloff casts a light on the scourge of human trafficking and teen prostitution in COLD MOON. The realities of that overlooked epidemic bring texture and depth to this story.

On screen and in books investigators often talk about killers decompensating as time goes on, but here in COLD MOON it may be the lead investigator that is losing the plot the most, getting further and further off the reservation as he tries to balance law and justice with his conflicted feelings (cravings?) for Cara.

We learn more about the broader FBI team in this third instalment in the 'Huntress' series, and Sokoloff continues to do a great job crafting an interesting supporting cast who all feel three-dimensional; they're not mere ciphers or pieces moved around primarily for the plot's benefit.

There's an energy and life to Sokoloff's writing, which excels as a conduit for a helter-skelter story.
All in all, a very good read in a very good series. Incredibly hard to put down. Highly recommended.

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