Lynn Hightower - Eyeshot
Hodder & Stoughton (0 340 63849 4) £16.99
Sonora Blair, my very favourite female detective, has had a serious and upsetting run-in with her male superior officer about the way she is handling the case. She has probably gone too far and heads for the womens bathroom to compose herself in private. She finds that some creep has hung a jockstrap over the mirror. She wonders if she can ever hope to hold her own in the world of male cops. Her partner, Sam Delorosa, gives her some advice. "See, what you want to do is emote and carry on and have long drawn-out discussions on stuff like how could he? and what did I do to bring this on? If you got a mans problem, use a mans solution". "Just what is a mans solution? Shoot it? Flush it down the john?" Sam shook his head at her. "Ignore it." "Ignore it?" "Yep. Then the balls in their court. Then they got to put up or shut up, and you dont sit there and spin, which is what they want. Dont do that, girl. Just go on with your regular shit." Sonora thought for a minute. "You know, Sam, Im beginning to understand why men always get the upper hand." But of course they dont. At least, not where Sonora is concerned.
Its good to have Sonora back. In "Eyeshot", mistakes which she made in her handling of the case of the female serial killer in "Flashpoint" , Hightowers first book, give others a stick to beat her with. But this time her stomach ulcer has disappeared which makes life, even with two kids, a three - legged dog and a shabby home a bit easier to cope with. But she could use more money and a stable relationship. She gets tired of having to make up stories about where she is going on Friday nights. A beautiful woman, mother of two, is missing. One distinguishing thing about her is a tattoo on her left ankle. A severed leg has been found alongside the interstate highway. Sonora thinks there may be a connection even though the leg was discovered the distance of a whole state away. One of the main suspects is a man who is influential, important and very popular with the police. Following up his connections with the case becomes a dangerous occupation. More body parts turn up. This time in Tennessee, in a plastic trash bag, snagged on a fishing line. The descriptions of the minor characters and of this location are amazing. Sonoras hair curls and frizzes in the humidity. In the air-conditioning she shivers. In this atmosphere what happens to dead bodies? We find out. At his office, in a cinderblock building next to the farmers coop, Sheriff Monte Sizemore leads Sam and Sonora to the break room. "Tell me hes not heading for that old refrigerator," Sonora murmurs under her breath. In the humming, huge old Harvest Yellow double wide model the shelves have been removed to make room for a cooler to hold the trash bag. Bottles of Seven-Up and Orange Crush line the inside door. Sheriff Sizemore is too polite to leave Sam and Sonora to it. But, coming forward to take a closer look and give his opinion on whether or not a hacksaw has been used to dismember the body, swallows and admits he is "not much used to this end of the job."
"Eyeshot" has seventy four beautifully short chapters. The quality of the writing is consistent. Interest and involvement never falters. When Sonora makes a stand and fights power and prejudice with intelligence and wit you want to cheer out loud. A bit like the way you feel when you see Helen Mirren as D.I. Tennison doing the same while running the Police Department in the British T.V. series "Prime Suspect" Hightowers second novel deserves to be another huge success. It is as good, if not better, than her first.
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