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Monday, July 13, 2009

Killer Summer

Although I have been a fan of Ridley Pearson’s work for a long time, Killer Summer was my introduction to his Sheriff Walt Fleming series. Now, having read this third novel in the series, I plan to go back to the first two books to get a better understanding of how Walt Fleming came to be the man he is.

Walt is the sheriff of Sun Valley, Idaho, and although he does not have to contend with a lot of violent crime, being sheriff of an enclave of some of the wealthiest people in the country comes with its own special problems. At times, Walt feels more like a combination baby sitter/politician than he does a peace officer. So when a large group of wealthy wine connoisseurs gathers in Sun Valley for an event culminating in the auctioning of three bottles of wine believed to have been gifted to John Adams by Thomas Jefferson, it is pretty much business-as-usual for the sheriff.

True, Walt’s personal life is not what it could be. The father of twin daughters, he now has to contend with the fact that his soon-to-be-ex-wife is living with one of his own deputies. As if that embarrassment were not enough, Walt, who barely has the time to be with his daughters, knows that he also needs to find time for his seventeen-year-old nephew, Kevin. The sudden death of Kevin’s father has left the boy without a male role model in his life and Walt’s sister looks to him to fill that gap.

Things begin to get complicated when the private security agent hired to bring the three John Adams bottles of wine to Sun Valley becomes the victim of a heist-gone-bad. Walt Fleming and his small group of deputies are left with the unenviable task of solving the attempted theft of the valuable wine while simultaneously guarding that same wine until it can be delivered to the winning bidder later in the week.

Walt soon begins to suspect that not all is what it seems to be regarding the bottles of wine and their current owner. Just when things start making a bit of sense to the sheriff, however, the situation careens out-of-control and he finds himself searching frantically for a hijacked airplane that may have fallen from the sky and the two teens, one his own nephew, feared to have been taken hostage by the hijackers at take-off.

Killer Summer is a quick-paced, but rather complicated, thriller that requires a little extra attention from the reader if the crime at its heart is to be completely understood as Pearson reveals it layer-by-layer. Readers might be tempted to rush to the book’s cliffhanger ending, but that would be a mistake. They should, instead, take a deep breath and make sure not to speed past any of the story’s important details. They will be happy that they did.

Rated at: 4.0

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