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The Debt Collector [Hardcover]

Lynn Hightower
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 10 2000 Sonora Blair Mysteries
On a warm March evening in Cincinnati, detective Sonora Blair says good-bye to her two teenage children, drives to a neat suburban neighborhood, and walks through the door of a "home invasion"--a shocking mass murder scene. Thus begins Lynn Hightower's latest novel, a masterpiece of suspense that combines meticulous procedural detail with page-turning storytelling. From its opening scene to its stunning climax, The Debt Collector is at once chilling, thought-provoking, and utterly impossible to put down.

"No survivors," Sonora Blair said to herself when she and her partner, Sam, arrived at the crime scene. A typical American family lived here. In the driveway, a car is left behind in a hurry, its door open, its battery nearly dead. Before she followed Sam inside, Sonora knew what was waiting. She just didn't know how bad it would look, how bizarre the evidence would be, and how powerfully a dying woman's last words would echo in her mind: "The Angel."

Within hours Sonora had gotten over the shock. She'd gone home, checked on her kids, and washed the blood off her nice white blouse. Before long she'd be setting off to find a killer--or maybe two. That's when the case takes a sudden, strange turn. A retired cop, legendary to those who worked with him, practically hands Sonora the suspects on a plate: their names, histories, even where they can be found. But among her fellow cops Sonora alone believes there is something more to this case. A third man. Or an angel...

In The Debt Collector, Lynn Hightower chillingly captures the collision of a horrific crime with the ordinary lives of its victims. But another life is at stake here. The life of a woman who can't mother her children the way she wishes she could, who misses people she once loved, and who even longs quietly for another chance at romance. And while one family has been wiped out by savage killers, the life of this good cop is at risk now. Because as Sonora moves further and further down a trail full of shocking surprises, bitter revelations, and unpaid debts, she now knows one thing for sure: how close she is getting to the edge.

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From Amazon

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.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Rather disappointing Dec 16 2000
I've been a long-time fan of this series-with the exception of Satan's Lambs which, although well-written, goes down the Satanic Ritual Abuse path where I cannot follow (at least, not without a full frontal lobotomy). The characters are always effectively drawn, the narrative strong, the plot-lines plausible, the books generally entertaining.
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A scintillating police procedural Oct. 13 2000
She has been a homicide detective for many years working many ugly cases yet she remains steady on her job due to her inner strength and abilities. Sonora Blair is also a single mother raising a teenage son and an adolescent daughter. Though she would do anything for them, she knows something is missing in her life that leads her to the edge of the abyss like none of her cases has ever done. She cannot eat or sleep and has no social life since her last relationship ended seven months ago.

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.

Harriet Klausner
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3.0 out of 5 stars A little boring, but good read all together Dec 13 2000
The debt collector starts out with a gory crime scene which is done very well. I think the author goes a little overboard in trying to give the characters "character". Some of the dialog is just downright corny, but hey, some people like corny. Sonora, our heroine detective does her job well and is a bit on the independent/rebellious side. Unfortunately the killer does not get to go to the electric chair, oops, I shouldn't give that away, but his conclusion is still interesting.
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4.0 out of 5 stars pacy and thrilling Oct. 10 2000
This is a tale of an horrific house break-in and a very gory murder of almost an entire family.It seems to have taken place for no apparent reason,and it takes a very feisty woman detective to sort it all out.Lynn Hightower sets a cracking pace and maintains your interest for the entire book.This is a very good ,fast read, with aspects of hidden agendas and enough psychological twists to keep you guessing up to the last.
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