Ripcord (Billy Beckett #3), by Kelly Hodge (and Scott Pratt)

Eight stars

Continuing the series he and Scott Pratt seemingly began together, Kelly Hodge adds a new instalment to the Billy Beckett collection with another winner. Working a crime thriller angle I have not seen before, Hodge keeps the story moving along while entertaining the reader throughout. Billy Beckett is quite the sports agent, trying to get his business to gain momentum with relative success. Having found and signed Russell Mann when he was an undrafted free agent, Beckett and his client are set to negotiate a juicy new contract. Mann has taken the basketball world by storm and he is ready to ink a multi-million dollar deal. Off the court, Mann seems to still be holding onto his Bronx roots, interacting with men from the old neighbourhood. After a number of incidents on Orlando’s streets turn deadly, there is talk that Mann could have been present, though no concrete proof is ever found. This worries Beckett, but his client reassures him that he was nowhere near the scene of any crimes. Inching closer to contract negotiations, Beckett tries to see the best in his client while he worries about the other items on his plate. A former lover of his has up and disappeared, but has been sighted around the country. Her parents ask Beckett to help, but he is not entirely sure he wants to stir anything up. Beckett’s partner is looking to diversify outside the sports industry, tapping into the music scene in Nashville. Beckett remains tepid about the idea, but perhaps a rebranding is just what he needs. If that were not enough, issues in Beckett’s personal life have his focus unclear. When Beckett receives a call from a woman demanding money to stay quiet after she saw Russell Mann at the scene of a crime, he must decide if he is willing to stay quiet and guarantee himself a massive new paycheque after a contract signing, or if Mann should be outed and potentially sent away. All this weighs heavily on Beckett’s mind as he tries to do what’s best. A great new novel that keeps the high quality that Scott Pratt made popular alive, Kelly Hodge offers readers something worthwhile. Recommended to those who love a great crime thriller that is fairly light, as well as readers who have come to love Scott Pratt’s Nashville based novels over the years.

I took to this new series with ease, sensing a similar style to many of the Scott Pratt novels I enjoyed over the years. The story flows well and the characters have something captivating about them. Billy Beckett may be a sports agent, but he is also quite relatable as a protagonist. While he has an obvious focus on his work, Beckett has a softer and more pleasant side and his personality shines through. Hodge offers an emotional angle as well, with Beckett trying to come to terms with the news he is offered, seeking to balance work and personal. Others offer their own angles in this piece, flavouring the story effectively and keeping the reader wanting to know more about what is going on. The story clips along well and the reader will soon be subsumed in all that is going on, reading and enjoying the narrative as it flows. There is little doubt the short chapters help push the story forward and the reader will likely mutter ‘just a little more’ if only to themselves. Hodge has done well to keep things light, without getting silly, as he tackles some substantial issues throughout the book, which can be tackled in short order for those who have a few hours to kill. I look forward to move from Billy Beckett, through the writing of Kelly Hodge, in the near future.

Kudos, Mr. Hodge, for another greater piece. Scott Pratt would be proud at how you are keeping his legacy alive!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: