Sometimes I could just kick myself when I select a book just to discover it is part of a series. Even more frustrating is when I like it. That means I feel compelled to start reading the series from the beginning.
As it turned out White Fire (2013) by Preston & Child is #13 in the Pendergast series. Lucky for me and you as the readers, it was not really necessary to have read 1-12 in order to enjoy this fast-moving tale that connects the past to the present.
The prologue to White Fire relates the story of a meeting in London between Oscar Wilde and Conan Doyle in 1889. Wilde shared a tale he had heard while on his American tour. Wilde had given a lecture in a mining camp known as Roaring Fork. Afterwards, one of the elderly minors shared one of his own stories with Wilde.
Criminal Forensic student Corrie Swanson has been searching for an original thesis idea that her advisor will accept. She wants to win the coveted Roswell Thesis as a junior at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
With the help of an archivist, Corrie begins a journey that takes her to Roaring Fork, Colorado, a ski resort for the very rich and the very famous. Corrie has a connection with Pendergast. She wrote him about her thesis idea and to let him know she was in Colorado. As an afterthought she mentioned the Doyle/Wilde connection. Good thing she did not omit that nugget of information.
Since Pendergast is in the South of France, Corrie began to search out Roaring Fork’s history via books and courthouse records. She also made a trip to the police station to meet with Chief Stanley Morris. That visit ended with a visit to where remains are stored. All seemed to be going smoothly until the next morning Corrie’s visit hit a stonewall.
While searching for more information at the Roaring Fork’s Library, Corrie received a call from the police department letting her know permission to examine remains has been denied. Ted Roman, librarian who had aided Corrie’s search, quietly stated, “Mrs. Betty Brown Kermode got to the chief of police.” Mrs. Kermode, described as fearsome, is a force to be reckoned with in Roaring Falls.
It is not long before Corrie finds out just how fearsome Mrs. Kermode can be. Corrie’s temper gets the better of her during a face to face meeting. Angry words were exchanged with Kermode telling Corrie that if she steps on the property again, she will be arrested. In a matter of hours that is exactly what happened. Corrie sends a letter to the only person she knows who can help—Pendergast.
10 days later a town meeting was being held involving the reinterring of the Boot Hill remains. Of course, Mrs. Kermode and brother-in-law Henry Montebello were present. It was when a man in a black suit, speaking with a smooth, southern accent, stepped forward to announce a direct descendent of one of the minors has been located. FBI Special Agent Pendergast managed to silence the room.
Before the night is over, the residents of Roaring Fork have even more to talk about. One of the huge, expensive homes in the Heights has been engulfed in flames. Readers, this thriller has three different story lines woven together to keep you engaged. And the energy of the book goes right to the very last page.
If White Fire is first time to meet Pendergast, you have just gotten the tiniest taste of how he can outwit criminal minds. Hopefully if Corrie appears in any future tales in this series, she will have learned to rein herself in long before she gets in trouble.
On a slightly lighter note but with share of anxious moments, along with fun times is First Star I See Tonight (2016) by Susan Elizbeth Phillips. By looking at the cover art you would never guess it has a football connection, plus a detective connection. Mix in a little romance, humor, sarcasm, and what you have is a read perfect for the beach.
The opening pages of this novel introduces 37-year-old Cooper Graham as he is out running the Lakefront Trail along Chicago’s shoreline. All was going his way until a younger runner passed him on the rail. Coop is not going to let that happen as he turned the run into a sprint. Cooper Graham hates losing.
When Coop returned to his car, he noticed a woman sitting on a bench, pretending to read a book. It was the same woman he noticed yesterday albeit dressed differently. As he headed towards her, she managed to hop a bus.
Two nights later Piper Dove was standing outside Spiral, the trendy nightclub Cooper had opened after his retirement as quarterback from the Chicago Stars. Piper was dressed much differently, hoping to gain entrance into the Spiral. Piper had been hired to follow and get close to Cooper Graham.
Piper, had worked for father’s investigating business, but only using the computer. Her father did not think the detective business was any place for a woman. He wanted to keep her safe. Duke Dove died and Piper used her life savings to buy his business from her nasty stepmother. Turns out his business and his client list were dated. Piper pretty much ended up with only the company name, Dove Investigations. She had to make her investigation of Cooper Graham work.
When Coop learns that Piper has been hired to investigate him, he demands to know who hired her. She does not give up her client’s name. But she does fill him in on things she has noticed in his own club. Cooper ends up hiring Piper to be a security checker on his hired help.
Piper does a great job at Spiral. She watches his employees, along with the many fans who want to get up close to the famous quarterback. Piper feels she needs to be his body guard. Of course, Cooper laughs that off. She is a woman! What could she possibly do to save his life? He will find out. What seems to be acts of sabotage at the club convinces Piper that he needs her to protect his safety. She proves her worth on more than one occasion.
Since I stated earlier that First Star I See Tonight is part romance, you can probably guess a relationship between Piper and Coop develops. Even though the two have an antagonistic relationship at times, their feelings overcome their quips and stabs they both seem to enjoy serving each other.
Several other characters are woven throughout the pages. While Piper and Cooper are trying to manage their lives, Piper is helping out 80-year-old Berni track down her dead husband. Yes, you read that correctly. Coop and Piper also help a young Pakistani servant girl to get to her family in Canada by using Coop’s Super Bowl ring.
This is a fast read with a little language some may deem uncomfortable. And, the love connections lead to some steamy scenes. Again, I had no clue this title was #8 in a series by this author. It did not matter at all. First Star I See Tonight is completely a stand-alone read.