Monday, November 29, 2010

UNDERCURRENTS - Ridley Pearson

FIRST LINE: "As he stepped off the jetway, Lou Boldt spotted the child held in the woman's arms, a keen sense of expectation in the young blue eyes as they briefly caught his own."

Lou Boldt is a sergeant with the Seattle Police Department and saddled with the Cross Killer cases, a series of murders that have eluded Boldt for months. One murder, however, appears as though the killer finally made a mistake. Or did he? Then a possible witness is uncovered. As Boldt moves in on the killer he finds all the pieces don't seem to fit together the way they should. With the help of Daphne Matthews, a police psychologist in the department, fellow officers Bobbie Gaynes and John LaMoia, Boldt has to figure out how the pieces DO fit to solve his puzzle.

UNDERCURRENTS is the first book in Pearson's Lou Boldt series. It introduces a complex character who searches to answers for his cases as well as his own life. The richness of Boldt's character comes across on page one when Pearson contrasts the image of a smiling, laughing young child Boldt notices at the airport with the image of the case Boldt has to confront:

"He heard the child giggle and found himself tempted to turn around. He loved the musical sound of a child laughing. Was there anything more beautiful? Anything more missing from his life?

But right now the child didn't matter.

The killings had started again; that was all that mattered."
The plot of UNDERCURRENTS is equally complex. There are layers upon layers that are naturally created by the different elements of people populating the storyline. Running parallel to the murders Boldt must solve is the disarray of his personal life. Pearson does an outstanding job of illustrating the reality of police life. The reality that these men and woman are not superheros from our comic books but rather real people who have to go home at the end of the day and deal with their own real-life situations.

Being already familiar with Pearson's Walt Fleming series made the sense of place very pronounced in this novel. The Walt Fleming series take places in a more rural setting. Pearson brings to life the urban-ness of Seattle in this novel, using it to advance his plot and develop his characters. He also takes advantage of some of the unique aspects of Seattle as a setting. These unique aspects allow Pearson to take advantage of creative forensics ideas before forensics was en vogue.

UNDERCURRENTS was first published in 1988, but over 20 years later it is still standing the test of time. Granted, there are details that help determine the date of the novel: cassette tapes, no cell phones, etc, but the strengths of the novel are in the universal elements allowing the reader to be carried away to Pearson's Seattle.

UNDERCURRENTS was published in 1988 in hardcover (ISBN: 0-312-01841-X) by St. Martin's Press. UNDERCURRENTS is available in mass market paperback (ISBN: 9780312929589) from St. Martin's Press as well.


Patricia Stoltey November 29, 2010 at 5:18 PM  

This is a good reminder that I'm behind on the Lou Boldt series. Must catch up. :)

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