The Debt Collector Hardcover – Oct 10 2000
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Sonora Blair returns in a case that pushes the Cincinnati detective closer to her emotional edges and allows Author Lynn Hightower to probe more deeply into her heroine's psyche than she has in her four previous suspense thrillers. This time the divorced mother of two investigates a home invasion in which an entire family striving to hold onto its tenuous grasp on the middle class is brutally murdered, except its youngest member, a 4-month-old infant. But before the baby's mother expires, she manages to whisper one phrase to Sonora: "The Angel came." Was it a heavenly messenger that comforted Joy Stinnet as she lay dying, or a more sinister visitor? Sonora's partner Sam doesn't put much faith in the deathbed declaration, but Blair isn't certain. As she investigates what turns out to have been a savage visit from a couple of thugs collecting on a bad debt, she gets a lead on the killers from an unlikely source: a retired cop with a reputation as a hero and a close connection with her own boss.
Although she's seen her share of murders, this case exacerbates all of Blair's fears for the safety of her own kids and the security of their surroundings. Hightower's skillful depiction of her protagonist's emotional vulnerability, especially the guilt every single mother feels about shortchanging her kids for her career, invests this well-paced mystery with particular resonance and showcases the author's increasingly multidimensional characterizations. The Debt Collector is a good read in a series that gets better with every new book. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
At the start of this gut-wrenching police procedural from Shamus Award winner Hightower (Satan's Lambs, etc.), Cincinnati homicide cop Sonora Blair and her partner, Sam Delarosa, must investigate a dreaded "home invasion." At the crime scene, they find dead three members of the Stinnet family, father Carl and two children. Then Sonora discovers the wife, Joy, nearly disemboweled under a bed clutching her unharmed baby girl and repeating the "Hail Mary." The dying Joy claims the "Angel" saved them. This nearly undoes the tough but vulnerable cop, who has her own problems as a widow with two kids. When two suspects are picked up, Barty Kinkle and Lanky Aruba, everyone is relieved, except for Sonora, who believes the "Angel" is real and at large. Kinkle is about to make a deal, but he's killed while being transferred from jail. At the same time, Sam is badly wounded. When Aruba is shot dead through his psych ward window, Sonora becomes more than ever convinced that a third person was involved. As Sonora engages in an increasingly dangerous duel of wits in her pursuit of the phantom angel, Hightower builds the suspense to an almost unbearable pitch. The domestic concerns of police and victims, Sonora's budding romance with Sam's ER doctor and her rock-solid partnership with Sam offer relief from the gore.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
The Debt Collector, however, just isn't up to Hightower's usual mark. First, the identity of the mysterious "third man" present at the grisly scene of the home invasion that is the central event of the tale, was fairly obvious. And, second, I couldn't buy into the heroine's suicidal ideation. Given that things were actually going well in Sonora Blair's life (so well, in fact, that I know any number of women who'd happily trade their lives for Sonora's), it didn't seem reasonable (no matter how charismatic the character of the "third man") that she'd be so preoccupied with thoughts of her own death-as well as being food-phobic almost to the point of anorexia. This is very serious stuff and there's just nothing in the text to substantiate this psychological near-meltdown.
That said, it's a book worth reading. It's just not up to the standard set by Hightower in No Good Deed, Eyeshot, and Flashpoint.
Ironically, her latest investigation wakes Sonora up to what is going on in her psyche. She and Sam (her partner) are investigating the butchery of a family in their home. The prevailing opinion among her peers is that two killers committed the brutal crimes. Sonora believes a third person was also there. That individual rescued the only survivor, a baby. As she and Sam make inquiries, Sonora meets a legendary retired cop, who sends her down a path that seems to wrap up the case. However, Sonora still has professional (and personal) doubts that the case is solved.
THE DEBT COLLECTOR is a dark, disturbing, yet mesmerizing police procedural novel that illustrates the toll police work has on an officer's soul. Readers who prefer happy endings need to look elsewhere as this story line sticks to the blues till the end of the novel and beyond (an aftertaste lingers). The audience who relishes a gut wrenching reality check in their plots will owe a debt of gratitude to talented Shamus Award winner Lynn Hightower.
Most recent customer reviews
I had never read this particular author before but the back of the book got me interested. It's very different than what I am used too reading. Read morePublished on Dec 7 2001
This is an excellent book which was more psychological than her other books. I really liked Sonora and enjoyed her relationship with her fellow cop and the other people in the... Read morePublished on March 4 2001 by Susie
Lynn Hightower's characters are well defined and the ending is worth the read.Published on Nov. 25 2000