Desolation Canyon (Detective Margaret Nolan #2), by P.J. Tracy

Seven stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, P.J. Tracy, and Macmillan Audio for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Having read many of P.J. Tracy’s novels in a past series, I was drawn to this new collection of crime thrillers, sure to make their mark on the curious reader. Leaving Minnesota behind, this series shifts to the West Coast, when LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan is struggling with a number of family issues. When she receives no support from her parents, Nolan turns to drinks with an old colleague, something that could have dire consequences. When they discover the body of a prominent lawyer, it looks like an open and shut case, until whispers of a dark religious cult emerges and Detective Nolan may have to risk it all to protect those around her. An intriguing story that pushes the limits and keeps the reader entertained.

LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan has been struggling for a while, partially because of the death of her brother overseas, but also because she shot someone in the line of duty. While Nolan seeks some solace from her parents, they turn a stiff upper lip and try to compartmentalise it all. This forces Nolan to turn to a friend (sometimes with benefits) for a drink at a posh hotel. If this is the only way that Nolan can dull the pain, so be it.

The time out for a stroll on the grounds turns ominous when Nolan and her companion come upon a man floating in the water. His death appears to be an accident, but Detective Nolan has an eye for these things and something does not add up. She is keen to investigate, though she remains apprehensive about what awaits her.

Sam Easton, another key character, has been asked to help a friend who has a dilemma of his own. A woman and her daughter were found in the middle of the desert, apparently trying to flee a religious compound with a reputation as being a Shanghai-La to the rich and famous. Something does not make sense here.

As Sam and Detective Nolan work side by side on their respective cases, there appears to be a thread of commonality, one that could turn both cases on their heads and leave many in serious danger. Nolan and Sam work together, allowing them to unravel much of what has been going on, only to discover the dangers that lurk beneath. P.J. Tracy has done well with this piece, even if it did not resonate with me as much as I might have liked.

I look for strong writing and a well-crafted narrative in the books I read. While I found some aspects of this in the book, there were times that it lacked and did not pull me in. Detective Margaret Nolan has moments of intrigue, but there was also times when I could not keep things straight, which also happened with Sam Easton. For some, it will surely be an amazing read, but for me it was simply decent and a way to end a year of books.

Margaret Nolan and Sam Easton work together to create interesting protagonists, though not as sensational as I would have liked. They prove to be quite unique in their personalities, struggling to find themselves at various points. While I cannot say anything bad about them, I was not drawn to want to learn a great deal more, which could surely be an issue of my own making. Still, I sought a little something else throughout, though Tracy can develop characters quite effectively.

The story had moments of greatness, but they were outdone by some neutral aspects that I could not ignore. A decent narrative and some intriguing characters rounded out the piece, offering me just enough to want to keep reading, but far from being riveted. The characters worked well and I found myself curious at various points, but I did not have the spark I had hoped to find. P.J. Tracy has a way with words and develops plots well, but something was just not on point for me. I chalk it up to being the last book of the year for me, leaving me ready to begin a new year with a BANG!

Kudos, Madam Tracy, for a decent piece. I am eager to see what;s to come and how it will compare.