After looking at three mystery series set in Arizona last week, let’s take a look at a thriller/police procedural set in Phoenix, Blood’s Echo by Isabella Maldonado.
Blood’s Echo* by Isabella Maldonado
Summary: The leading force behind the Phoenix Police Drug Enforcement Bureau’s campaign against a powerful drug cartel, Detective Veranda Cruz is on the brink of finally bringing in a powerful drug lord. When the operation goes wrong, however, Cruz finds herself battling her own bosses as well as the cartel. Will her secrets prevent her from getting the upper hand?
This is Isabella Maldonado’s debut novel in a planned series. Although it has some of the rough edges one might expect in a debut novel, it also has some bright spots.
Maldonado is a retired police captain, and her experiences give the police procedure portions real depth and authenticity. Aspiring mystery authors should pick up a copy just to see how she uses police jargon and vocabulary. I found myself underlining terms, especially in the first scene or two. How the various organizations within the police departments fit together is also enlightening.
In addition to police procedural, this novel is a clear thriller. The bad guys are revealed right up front and the question isn’t who did it, but will they win. Maldonado’s plotting is tight, which isn’t always easy to do. She also spends time with her villains, showing scenes from their point of view. This makes the stakes even higher, because we can see them as fleshed-out characters with goals and motivations.
Even though it is part of a planned series (with threads set up for the next book), the ending was satisfying and clean.
Needs More Polish:
The place where the novel falls down is a common one. Even experienced authors tend to write clichés, or overused ideas and phrases in their first drafts. The trick is to find the tired old phrases and rework them to make the ideas and words fresh for the reader. For example, “stomach churning,” “eyes cutting,” and “sweat running in rivulets” are commonly-used phrases that could have been upgraded.
Overall, Blood’s Echo is a tightly-drawn thriller with a strong female protagonist and well-crafted setting. It was a fast and enjoyable read. I will definitely check out the next one as well.
The second novel in the Veranda Cruz series:
Phoenix Burning* by Isabella Maldonado
(*Amazon Affiliate link)