Kids always have been a key part of this series featuring Texas Ranger and Criminal Profiler Sarah Armstrong written by former true crime writer Kathryn Casey. The same is true from the first page despite the fact that the initial focus is about how the summer heat has lingered on deep into October, Hurricane Juanita is stalled out in the gulf, and somebody has killed a very expensive bull on a ranch outside of Houston in order to send a message.
With a vulture perched above the scene around in an old oak tree as a backdrop, the prize winning longhorn bull is very dead thanks to its head having been obliterated by a shotgun blast. A circle has been drawn around the entire carcass in the red-brown dirt. Additionally, a design of some sort, possibly of African origin, has been painted onto the bull hide in black ink. In a state that prides itself on the cattle industry, this case is important and not just because the value of the bull makes it a felony.
Then there is the missing children case. For months, Sarah Armstrong has thought about two missing children that have never been found. While at the crime scene at the ranch, she is advised of the latest child abduction. The latest missing child, Joey Warner, looks remarkably like the other two missing kids. From the get go, Mom seems to have a different agenda than Law Enforcement and the estranged father and his family is of little help. A missing four year old child means Sarah's romantic interest, FBI agent and fellow criminal profiler David Garrity is front and center involved. While Garrity wants and needs her help to locate the missing boy, he does not have time to talk about where their relationship is going in the wake of a new and unexpected complication. That leaves Sarah to do most of the thinking about it, while working cases and dealing with the expectations of her own mother and her 12 year old daughter, Maggie.
Old timers will tell you, the only way to break a Texas drought is a hurricane. One lurks off shore, over the horizon, stalking the upper Texas coast with a vengeance. It does not take much thought on the reader’s behalf to realize that the Hurricane has to hit at the end of the book and imperil everything Sarah holds dear.
A bit clichéd at times, overall the read is a good one despite an ending that will clearly annoy some readers-- myself included. Hurricanes seem to be all the rage these days as a back drop in Texas based novels whether they are written by Texas based authors or not. A notable exception being Tyler resident Milton T. Burton’s very good novel, Nights of the Red Moon.
In a book that occasionally shifts into the pov of Joey Warner as well as his twisted kidnapper, the primary focus is the world seen from the viewpoint of Sarah Armstrong. A world where family and innocents take precedent, evil lurks and will lash out and kill in unexpected ways, and things are not often as they seem in the most tranquil of circumstances. Overall a good novel by the Houston area resident and one worthy of your time despite the noted issues.
If you have not read her prior books in this series, I strongly suggest you read them in order. Singularity, published in 2008 was followed by Blood Lines in 2009. Prior events are referenced in The Killing Storm and as such it would be best to read these novels in order.
The Killing Storm: A Mystery
Minotaur Books (St. Martin’s Publishing Group)
Material supplied by the Plano, Texas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2011
More book reviews and lots of good stuff at http://kevintipplescorner.blogspot.com/