First line: "Liz Barone had come to the conclusion that if her illness didn't kill her, the medical and legal bills just might."
Spitfire private investigator Fina Ludlow returns for Ingrid Thoft's third hard-boiled crime novel, Brutality. Instead of receiving a case from her family's legal practice, Fina brings this one to them. But what she pedals as a potential payout may turn into a major disaster.
Bereft mother Bobbi Barone hires Fina to find who assaulted her adult daughter, Liz, leaving her for dead. The pool of suspects is large: Liz is pursuing a lawsuit against her college alma mater, plus there's no secret she and her boss do not get along.
As Fina scratches the surface of Liz's life, even more creepy crawlies emerge as potential assailants, leaving Fina with a full can of worms to investigate. Somewhere in that mix is a deadly snake, and when Fina pokes too close, she finds herself--and her family--in danger as well.
Brutality's plot contains excesses that slow the story's pace, but Thoft still keeps the suspense high and her readers engaged. This is in large part due to her fantastically quirky protagonist. Seeing more layers of Fina's complexity peeled away in each novel is as entertaining as figuring out who done it. Thoft continues to play up Fina's humorously oddball characteristics, like coveting a vending machine in Costco as "the answer to all my prayers." She also flushes out more of her PI's passionate side through Fina's relationships with her family and friends.
Mixing the traditional PI novel with her own secret ingredient--Fina Ludlow--Thoft once again creates an explosively fun read for any crime fan.
Brutality is available in hardcover from Putnam (9780399171185) and as an unabridged audio (9781490683713), narrated by Rebecca Soler, from Recorded Books.