About the Book
While jogging off-duty along the riverfront, rookie cop Valorie Dawes discovers the body of a young girl – and ignites a manhunt for a serial killer.
The Shoeless Schoolgirl Slayer has remained a step ahead of the Clayton, CT police for months. All of his victims drowned. All were found barefoot. And all bear the same strange, fresh tattoo. Then rookie cop Val Dawes notices patterns that eluded the department’s more traditional senior detectives. Following her intuition, she discovers clues that convince her she’s closing in.
But is she? Or is the clever and elusive Slayer laying a trap to make Val the next victim?
Format: eARC (423 pages) Publisher: Double Diamond Publishing
Publication date: 21st September 2021 Genre: Crime
Find A Better Part of Valor (Valorie Dawes Thrillers Book 3) on Goodreads
I seem to be making a habit of reading Gary’s books part way through a series! For example, I’ve previously read The Mountain Man’s Badge, book three in the Mountain Man Mysteries series, and Lying in Vengeance, the follow-up to courtroom drama, Lying in Judgment. True to form, A Better Part of Valor, published on 21st September 2021, is the third book in the author’s Valorie Dawes series. The book can be read as a standalone but the references to key events in Valorie’s life and the previous investigations she’s been involved in would be spoilers for the earlier two books. So if you fancy embarking on a new police procedural series, start with the first book, A Woman of Valor.
The book contains meticulous detail of police procedure and the step-by-step process of a murder investigation: narrowing down suspects, cross-checking alibis, interviewing witnesses, identifying connections between the victims, trawling social media for background information on victims and suspects, not to mention recording every piece of evidence, every conversation and interaction in minute detail. As the hunt for the killer progresses, the long hours take their toll on everyone involved in the investigation, including Valorie who seems to exist solely on a diet on coffee and the odd snatched breakfast. How she finds the energy for runs and punishing gym sessions I don’t know! The team also have to put up with interference from the Mayor, Megan Iverson, anxious for a crime wave not to jeopardize her political ambitions, shared by her husband.
Val’s back story, the details of which are slowly revealed, helps the reader understand why she is so driven to solve the case, why she often underestimates her abilities and can at times take unnecessary risks. Luckily, she has former partner, Gil, to provide wise advice. Recovering from a serious injury incurred in a previous case, Gil is the person who knows Valorie best and one of the few people from whom she will accept advice – and actually take it! Gil’s description of Valorie as ‘intelligent, intuitive, relentless, and gutsy as hell’ sums her up nicely and makes her an engaging protagonist. I really liked the relationship between Gil and Valorie, and his wise advice when Valorie doubts herself, ‘Find the best part of you. That’s the key’.
Given the nature of the crime, the suspects are all male most of whom are rather unpleasant characters or suspiciously too helpful. I had various suspicions about who the perpetrator might be but the author skilfully led me up several blind alleys before returning to main street. The tension ramps up in the final chapters in which the hunter becomes the hunted. But is the real conflict within Valorie’s heart as she ponders the risks of crossing the boundary between friendship and something more?
A Better Part of Valor is a chunky read but its intricate plot, likeable central character and sense of authenticity kept this reader turning the pages way past her bedtime. My thanks to the author for my digital advance review copy.
In three words: Intriguing, detailed, suspenseful
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About the Author
A homebrewer and home coffee roaster, Gary is a member of the Oregon Brew Crew and a BJCP National Beer Judge. He loves to ski, cook, and root for his beloved Patriots and Red Sox. And when that’s not enough, he escapes to the Oregon coast with his sweetheart.