Ingrid Thoft has come on to the crime fiction scene in grand style with Loyalty. She introduces, Fina Ludlow, a fiesty new P.I. who battles to prove herself in a testosterone-rich environment. Her father and brothers are all lawyers in the family law practice. Fina is the company's in-house investigator. Typically her work revolves around the cases her family takes on, but when she's called in to investigate the disappearance of her sister-in-law, the stakes become much more personal.
As she follows the clues of the case, Fina finds herself in the hospital, an interrogation room and an ugly skeleton closet. Her "loyalty" will be tested like never before, and loyalty to one will ultimately mean disloyalty to another. Coming out of this case unscathed doesn't seem possible.
The only thing I don't like about Fina Ludlow is her ability to eat junk all the time and not need to work out 12 hours a day. She has charisma and flare. She may be a disappointment to her mother, but Fina is comfortable in her own skin; she doesn't need her mother's approval. Witty, smart and spirited, this is a character I'm going to look forward to seeing again.
Thoft has created a compelling plot around her dynamic P.I., weaving various elements in and out to keep the readers on their toes and turning pages.
As a debut, Loyalty isn't without some minor hiccups. The editing could have been a bit stronger, tightening up the narrative with things like the repeated focus on what characters were wearing in each scene or blocks of text describing the layout of a room. The dialogue is strong throughout the book but every once in awhile an awkward line pulls the reader out of the flow of the conversation. The fact that the dialogue is so good overall makes those awkward lines that much more blatant. But as a baseline measurement, Loyalty is going to give Thoft a high bar to maintain.
Loyalty is the beginning of what I anticipate will be a strong series in the crime fiction world. It will vie for a place on my favorite debut's list this year and I'm looking forward to more from Ingrid Thoft!
Loyalty is available in hardcover (ISBN: 978-0399162121) from Putnam. Loyalty is also available as a Penguin Audio unabridged audiobook download, narrated by Rebecca Soler.