Darkness is nothing new to LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan, but in P.J. Tracy’s The Devil You Know, even she isn’t prepared for the scandalous deception of deadly proportions that shakes the very foundation of Hollywood and its untouchables…and leaves her entangled in its rotten core.
Los Angeles has many faces: the real LA where regular people live and work, the degenerate underbelly of any big city, and the rarefied world of wealth, power, and celebrity. LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan’s latest case plunges her into this insular realm of privilege, and gives her a glimpse of the decay behind the glitter.
Beloved actor Evan Hobbes is found in the rubble of a Malibu rockslide, a day after a fake video ruins his career. It’s not clear to Nolan if it’s an accident, a suicide, or a murder, and things get murkier as the investigation expands to his luminary friends and colleagues. Meanwhile, Hobbes’s agent is dealing with damage control, his psychotic boss, and a woman he’s scorned.
My first experience with LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan and perhaps that is part of my problem, this book being #3 in the series. Sometimes, it matters not; sometimes it’s best to have started with book 1.
Detective Nolan is a hardened, experienced woman on the LAPD force borne of time spent negotiating with the men in the department as well as the three well-known layers of LA society; that of the underbelly, the regular people who work and pay taxes for the lower layer as well as the top layer of the privileged, wealthy, and powerful. It is the top layer she will deal with here.
First, I found that the book gets a slow start with excessive use of descriptive adjectives, losing me several times in the sheer volume of characters being introduced as well as the twenty-dollar words when two dollars ones would do.
“Crawford appeared in the doorway, interrupting her elegiac meanderings.”
There is the death of a popular and well-known actor that is determined homicide (not accident), followed by a multiple pile up of bodies. The slow pace eases somewhat as the sixteen-syllable words decrease, but still I could find no way to engage and lost the thread several times.
It doesn’t take long to discern the guilty party and then it becomes difficult to hang on long enough for the plot to catch up. The focus tends to spread when I wanted to concentrate on the whodunit. It seems like the storyline is carried along by the support characters until Maggie finally takes over towards the second half of the narrative.
I just could not seem to connect and stay connected and particularly wanted to after the invitation from Ms. Haring of St. Martin’s Press. I usually enjoy police procedurals—perhaps this was a bit cerebral for me and those who enjoy a twisty, intelligent crime thriller will embrace.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.
Rosepoint Rating: Three point Five Stars
Genre: Police Procedurals, Crime Thrillers
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Print Length: 294 pages
Publication Date: January 17, 2023
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
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The Author: PJ Tracy is the pseudonym of mother-daughter writing duo P.J. and Traci Lambrecht, authors of the New York Times and internationally bestselling MONKEEWRENCH series, and winners of the Anthony, Barry, Gumshoe, and Minnesota Book Awards.
After PJ’s death in 2016, Traci began writing the Detective Margaret Nolan series, set in Los Angeles, where she lived for many years. DEEP INTO THE DARK and DESOLATION CANYON are available now, and the third novel, THE DEVIL YOU KNOW, will be released in January 2023.
©2022 V Williams