Elaine Viets' s new "Death Investigator" series is a world apart from her "Dead-End Job" and " Mystery Shopper" mysteries. While the protagonists in those novels lead problematic lives (including hiding from court orders by staying off the grid), Viets's new Angela Richman novels are interestingly darker. In both the first book in the series, "Brain Storm," and this second novel, Viets successfully depicts a physically and emotionally flawed stroke survivor who investigates often gruesome deaths while grieving for a recently deceased husband. In addition, although not as stark as "Brain Storm," "Fire and Ashes" pulls no punches when describing the white privilege demanded by the wealthy residents in Angela Richman's town of Chouteau Forest, Missouri.
Richman, back to investigating deaths after recovering from six strokes and a coma, is tasked with investigating the deaths of a wealthy, but grubby sexist-70 year old, and a seventeen year old heroin user. In both cases, in order to find the truth, Richman must push back against assumptions of guilt made by the police, prosecutor, and leaders of society, based on bigotry concerning local Mexican-Americans.
Viets's mastery of criminal forensic science is impressive, as is her skillful ability to give voice to the characters depicted. Several years ago, her narrative concerning overt law enforcement and prosecutorial bigotry probably would have been viewed as unrealistic and over the top. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said today.
Without a doubt, this book should be at the top of summer reading lists.
(In return for an honest review, I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.)
* Print Length: 288 pages
* Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1477848800
* Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (July 25, 2017)
* Publication Date: July 25, 2017
* Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC