A Deadly Wilderness
Five Star, Jan 2010, $25.95
In San Antonio, Texas, homicide detective Ray “Bible Boy” Johnson is hiking with two youngsters (Benny and Marco) when his girlfriend Susana Acosta's eight-year-old son Marco falls down a ravine and lands near the body of Joey Doyle. Ray falls also trying to prevent Marco from falling. Ray suffers a concussion, rib and ankle injuries while Marco has a broken wrist.
The killer cut off Joey’s ring finger as apparently some sort of souvenir so Ray knows this was a homicide. He calls his boss Sergeant Samuel Martinez, who is Susana’s brother. Sam assigns Ray’s in your face partner Detective Deborah Smith to be in charge of the investigation and tells Ray to stay out of it and heal. Since Joey is the son of a wealthy car dealership owner, the cops focus on his extended family. Meanwhile Lalo Hernandez knows the corpse he dumped in the ravine was found too soon so he may have to do some additional cleaning starting with two witnesses and perhaps the cop and kids, his style.
This is an entertaining inspirational police procedural with a strong cast (no pun intended). The inquiry is top rate while the characters have real issues. For instance, Susana worries about her son’s safety and the incident affirms her belief while Deborah has her own demons. Hernandez is a sinister villain who is the opposite of caring Bible Boy Ray who is a true believer. Although dubbed Bible Boy and Mr. Grace, Ray does not shove Christianity down the throats of his peers, his beloved and the readers as the super investigation is the story line.