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Firebreak (Josie Gray) by Tricia Fields
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250055057
Date: 03 March 2015 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

A wildfire nearly destroys the small border town of Artemis, Texas. During the cleanup, Police Chief Josie Gray discovers a man's charred corpse in the burned out home of country singer Billy Nix and his wife/manager Brenda Nix. A firebreak should have prevented the house from burning. The fire appears to have been intentionally set after the man was murdered. Another mysterious death soon follows. Josie learns that the Nixes' marriage was a sham used to conceal a wide assortment of perverse passions, illegal drugs, and material greed.

Fires and passions rage out of control in Tricia Field's highly volatile mystery, Firebreak (following Wrecked, Scratchgravel Road and The Territory). Her past mysteries involved gun slinging, shootouts, and kidnappings--the type of violence one would expect in a small town that sits on the Rio Grande, across from Labrada, which harbors a vicious drug cartel, the Medranos. Instead of drug cartels waging war against each other, we have competing musicians who dream of signing million-dollar contracts with Nashville agents. In the aftermath of a treacherous wildfire, a bizarre whodunit is revealed. It is the type of mystery Agatha Christie or Mickey Spillane would have written if they had lived in West Texas.

Firebreak has a diverse assortment of interesting characters that burn with desire for money, power, fame, and love. The music industry, like every other segment of the entertainment world, is extremely competitive and cutthroat. In Firebreak, bands compete with each other at a honky-tonk bar, the Hell-Bent. This novel describes the beer-guzzling fans and the clinging, ne'er-do-well groupies that hang around singers in hopes their fame will rub off on them. Singers will do nearly anything to keep their reputations untarnished.

Police Chief Josie Gray is no longer romantically involved with accountant Dillon Reese; still traumatized by the drug cartel that abducted and kept him hostage inside a dark, creature-infested pit, he has moved to St. Louis, Missouri. Because of the wildfires, Josie has been reunited with a high school buddy, Pete Beckett, who is now a professional smoke jumper. He is a rowdy, daredevil who takes her skydiving. Josie is also reunited with a professional hostage negotiator, Nick Santos, who is investigating another kidnapping by a drug cartel. With whom will Josie become romantically involved? Even her elderly neighbor, Dell, has found romance.

If fans of the popular Josie Gray series are expecting violent shootouts, they are going to be disappointed with Firebreak. Even though it does have a raging wildfire that causes a great deal of tension at the novel's beginning, it is primarily a medical and police procedural with an intriguing mystery that has a tremendous amount of human drama. Some characters experience one tragedy after another; one can't help but feel sorrow for them. Furthermore, the homosexual lifestyle plays a rather significant role in the plot. One male character is described as very promiscuous.

Whether they are born of Mother Nature or man's sinful nature, destructive flames rage throughout Firebreak. It provides a pleasant break or departure from Tricia Field's usual shoot-'em-up mysteries. I highly recommend it, especially to fans of mysteries that are set in the great Lone Star State of Texas.

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