I was recently handed an ARC of the latest novel in this series, but chose to take a step back to read the series that led up to its publication. Nanci Rathbun builds an interesting collection of novels built on a strong PI, Angelina Bonaparte, working to help those in need around Milwaukee, while never forgetting her roots in the Family. Bonaparte is alerted when one of the men she has been tracking turns up mentioned in an obituary. However, the body is not that of the man, nor is the case as cut and dry as she would have liked. This pulls Bonaparte into a real sleuthing mystery and forces her to come to terms with a number of truths and emotions she never wanted to surface. As the Rathbun stories get better, the series continues to grow on me. Great reading for those who loved the past novels, as well as the reader who needs a lighter crime thriller.
Angelina Bonaparte (add the ‘tay’ on the last syllable if you want to save a shin kicking) has been enjoying the new success that her work has garnered over the last while. She’s got an associate and some great clients, as well as a strong relationship with a Homicide detective. It all seems to be trucking along nicely when an obituary appears in the local paper for Hank Wagner. He’s a man she’s been trying to find for quite a while. How will Bonaparte break the news to his wife after six years since his disappearance?
After speaking to a few contacts, Bonaparte comes back with some odd revelations that do not make much sense. Cirrhosis and a body that has seen years of heavy drinking does not sound that the man who left his family one night, to the point that Bonaparte wonders if there’s been a bait and switch. Some deeper digging proves that this is not the man everyone says he is, but what does that mean for the larger case? While all this is going on, Bonaparte continues to be building her relationship and wondering if she’s finally met the man who will make her forget the ex-husband who made it a habit to step out on her.
While Bonaparte tries her best to piece it all together, she realises that she might be in over her head. A mistaken identity opens a can of worms that has secret identity all over it. Further exploration shows that the disappearance might be tied to some scandalous connections on the East Coast, ones that cannot be easily forgotten. When Bonaparte turns to her father, he reluctantly agrees to talk with her about his ‘Family’ connections and the rule of omertà. No one is safe and it will take Bonaparte every fibre of her being to get to the real truth.
Along the way, MPD makes a move that could put Bonaparte and her relationship with Detective W. T. “Ted” Wukowski in serious jeopardy. Unwilling to lose their jobs or their love, the two must make some serious sacrifices in order to survive it all. While this is a strain neither of them want, if they can solve this case and yet not succumb to desire, it might work out in their favour at the end of the day. Rathbun is adding some needed depth to the series and just at the right moment!
I have always enjoyed the ability to binge-read a series, as it permits me a richer exploration of the plots and character development. It’s nice to be able to really get a feel for how an author sees a series progress, rather than having to wait for each instalment as it is published. While I was not entirely hooked by the debut novel that Nanci Rathbun offered readers, Angelina Bonaparte and the entire premise of this series has grown on me and I have adapted to a slight variation on the genre I have come to love over the years!
Angelina Bonaparte remains the strong protagonist who is forced to deal with a great deal yet again. While there is some decent character development throughout the piece, it is the keen focus on her back story and personal life that fills the pages of the book. A ‘Mafia Princess’ of sorts, Bonaparte must wrestle with this and the connections her father has amassed, while juggling the truths of omertà throughout the novel. There is also a strong development and forced regression in the Angie-Ted relationship, which could make things all the more interesting in the next novel, the aforementioned ARC.
Rathbun uses more of her strong secondary characters to keep the piece moving along. While the case is more a ‘hunt’ than a slow reveal of a mystery in which a number of people are potential killers, there is still a richness to the narrative that emerges throughout. The reader is able to collect a strong set of forward momentum with those given minor roles throughout, each adding their own perspective to the piece. The reoccurring cast helps the ground the piece, but there is something nice about a new set of faces at times to keep the novel on its toes.
I can admit that Nanci Rathbun’s novels are growing on me, the more I read them (another great reason to binge). It took me some time to find my pace with the middle-aged PI whose obsession with undergarments sometimes overtook the plot of the story, but it has all one together nicely. The book proved grittier and got into some of the darker parts of the Bonaparte character and a larger narrative, though there are still some saccharine parts that do not match. Not that a book needs to be cuss filled, but the dialogue sometimes comes across as a tad diluted. Rathbun shows decent writing throughout, trying to steer away from as much predictability. There’s a nice balance of short and longer chapters to whet the reader’s appetite throughout, though the pace is sure to keep the story moving along effectively. There are certainly some threads throughout the piece that were left dangling and kept me intrigued, leaving me to want to get my hands on the ARC to see how they might work themselves out. That’s the key to a strong series and Rathbun has my interest piqued!
Kudos, Madam Rathbun, for another winner. I think you may have found a fan in me, once and for all!
A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons