Friday, April 26, 2013

Blunt Impact by Lisa Black

Once again I’m charmed by jumping into a series midstream—in this case, the Theresa MacLean series by Lisa Black. Blunt Impact is book number five, but it stands alone just fine, and makes a good recommendation for its predecessors.

Theresa MacLean is a forensic detective in Cleveland, Ohio, working out of the Medical Examiner’s Office. She sometimes works with her homicide cop cousin, Frank Patrick. In Blunt Impact, they are summoned to the construction site of a controversial new prison facility, where a body has been found after an apparent fall.

The body is that of female construction worker, and the initial assumption is that her death was a suicide. When Theresa discovers the woman’s eleven-year-old daughter hiding behind a dumpster with blood on her clothes, she knows she has a witness both determined and fragile. The daughter insists her mother was pushed, and Theresa and Frank soon find themselves in a maze of motives and more murder, spiced up by fraud, protesters, and the dead woman's refusal to reveal the identity of her child's father.

Romance isn’t a dominant thread in the story, but it does make an appearance. Subplots include an unrequited crush between Frank and his partner Angela, and the plight of a homely prosecutor with a heart of gold.

 When I picked this up, I was merely hoping for a competent mystery, and found that it’s better than that. Although police procedurals are somewhat formulaic by nature, Black’s characters are unique, her voice distinctive, and the setting vivid enough to twist my stomach with a fear of heights.

The series in order:
Evidence of Murder
Trail of Blood
Defensive Wounds
Blunt Impact

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