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Midnight Crossing (Josie Gray) by Tricia Fields
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250076281
Date: 05 July 2016 List Price $26.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Police Chief Josie Gray maintains the peace in Artemis, a small border town in West Texas. The peace is shattered one evening when she discovers a young woman, Isabella Dagati, cowering in her shed while another young woman, Renata Carrillo, lies shot to death in a nearby pasture. Josie learns there is a human trafficking ring in her town. As she investigates Renata's murder, she learns there is a conspiracy involving some very important townspeople who can destroy her career. Complicating matters is the arrival of Josie's estranged mom, Beverly Gray, who yearns for a closer relationship with her daughter who moved two-thousand miles in order to get away from her.

Human trafficking and illegal immigration have become controversial topics in this election year. Best-selling author Tricia Fields expertly portrays the plight and suffering of the victims in her latest mystery, Midnight Crossing. Once again, Josie puts her career and life on the line to help those less fortunate than herself. She is looked upon as a pillar of righteousness on both sides of the Rio Grande. In Piedra Labrada (Artemis's sister town in Mexico), there is an elderly wise woman, Senora Molina, who helps the downtrodden. She tells Josie, "You have a heart for people. And you do what's right in the face of evil."

The characterization in the Josie Gray novels is excellent. Readers must wonder if Fields bases her characters on true life people she has known. She can make villains, such as rapist Josh Mooney, sound and appear extremely slimy without resorting to extreme profanity. Each character is unique and not a cutout paper doll that she repeatedly utilized as a template. Neither does Fields use an abundance of gore. There is violence in her novels, but not what I would consider a gratuitous amount. Neither would I classify her mysteries as cozies because they have a tremendous amount of high-tech medical and police procedures. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, Josie goes undercover in order to bust open a human trafficking ring.

Josie is still dating Nick Santos, a professional kidnapping negotiator, who is spending a lot of time in Piedra Labrada. Her former boyfriend, Dillon Reese, was taken hostage in a previous novel. After having spent several days naked and blindfolded at the bottom of a critter-infested well, he has distanced himself from Josie. Because she is an enemy of the infamous Medrano Cartel, I would probably keep my distance from her as well. However, Josie's mom, Beverly, is trying to build a closer relationship to her estranged daughter who has resentment issues. When her police officer husband was killed in the line of duty, Beverly coped by shutting her young daughter out of her life. Investigating the human trafficking ring keeps mom and daughter from properly bonding; however, there are some tender moments between them.

Midnight Crossing makes readers appreciate the freedom that they enjoy in America. It shines a spotlight on the sad, horrifying topic of human trafficking. Citizens of Latin countries pay Americans large amounts of money (sometimes their life savings) to transport them across the border. Many of these men, women, and children are cruelly exploited by criminals. Their dreams of living better lives become nightmares. Recently, a human trafficking ring was uncovered in my quiet city of Chesapeake, Virginia. I was shocked to learn that the victims, consisting mostly of middle-aged Asian women, were working in massage parlors. A human trafficking ring may secretly exist in your neighborhood.

Despite the fact that it doesn't have a high body count, Midnight Crossing remains a suspenseful police procedural with much human drama. Josie learns the importance of keeping family together. I learned the importance of keeping my cell phone at home when committing a crime and keeping my big mouth shut while being questioned inside an interrogation room. (Indeed, phone records can play a significant role in solving a homicide.) This novel is more character driven and emotional and less shoot 'em up than the other installments in Tricia Fields' Josie Gray mystery series. The mystery of who shot and killed Renata Carrillo will keep readers puzzled to nearly the end. However, the plight of those who must cross the Rio Grande at midnight will weigh heavily on the conscience of most readers long after this book is set aside.

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