Sunday, 20 July 2014

Russian Hill by Ty Hutchinson

The couple that slays together stays together.  At least that's the way it is for Jerry and Vicki Carlson,  a psychopath and a sociopath respectively.  The tie that binds them is simple - the thrill of the kill.

The Carlsons are involved in a game that requires travel to major cities to complete challenges.  Their current game is called "Chasing Chinatown" and it consists of five Attractions. When the story starts they have just completed Attraction number three and are eager to embark on number four.  The game is being played out in San Francisco and this particular variation of the Amazing Race always ends in murder.

FBI Agent Abby Kane has been enjoying her work on white collar crime cases, a break from serial killers and organized crime, her specialities.  When a hiker is found with an axe sticking out of her chest Abby somewhat reluctantly accepts the case.  Then when the local  precinct thinks they have a serial killer on their hands, they consult with Abby and she realizes there is a link to her murdered hiker and their cases.  She teams up with SFPD Detective Kyle Kang and the adventure begins.

The first part of the story seesaws back and forth between the viewpoint of the Carlsons and Abby. It is fascinating to read the thoughts of Jerry and Vicki as they methodically plan their moves as a team, play their creepy game and live a lavish and somewhat perverted lifestyle. 
At the other end of the seesaw is Abby, working diligently to track them down. She is a creative thinker who gives her grey cells a work out before acting. But that entails methodically going over her notes late into the night and sacrificing some of the wholesome family time and outings she so cherishes.

Together Kane and Kyle systematically follow-up on every possibility in their pursuit of the killers.  Just as the case appears to be wrapped up, the story smoothly steers us into the criminal underground world of San Fran's Chinatown. Kane and Kyle are both trained in martial arts and this helps to ratchet up the action scenes with the Chinese villains.  Abby relies mostly on her wits, but when she has to defend herself physically, her petite size is deceptive and she kicks butt with the best of them.

The plot has a number of twists with just enough evil and danger lurking around corners to create a nice tension. Some scenes are a bit graphic, but Hutchinson lightens the mood  by providing off duty moments for some of the characters and witty banter between Abby and Ken to achieve a nice balance.

An engaging, entertaining, and quick read that I read in one sitting on a rainy afternoon.  Thank you NetGalley for a copy of this book.  Oh, and I love the cover art.

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