Water Signs (2017, Perseverance Press) is the second Janet Dawson/Jeri Ryan novel that I've recently read and reviewed, after the excellent Cold Trail.
California has always had the blessings and curses of being a paradise that fell to earth. The Jeri Ryan, P.I. series catalogues the plagues of Northern California: in Cold Trail, vineyards compete with marijuana and traditional farmers; in Water Signs, we visit the cut-throat world of Bay Shore real estate developers. Considering all of the challenges facing California, Dawson has plenty of fodder for future entries.
The strengths of this series are its sense of place and its grounding in the real world. The details are well-researched and provide a verisimilitude to the novel. Dawson has a master's in history and experience as a journalist and she uses this background to capture Northern California in place and time. Similarly, the detective Jeri Ryan solves her cases through hard work, there are no magical plot twists or clues dropping from the sky. If you want to know how a private eye really operates, this is the series to go to: a book for mystery writers as much as readers.
All this said, I found Water Signs a bit more tepid than Cold Trail. In Cold Trail, there was the ticking clock emergency, the necessity of finding her missing brother. Although effective, ticking clocks can't always be used and in Water Signs, the sense of urgency is missing. What caused the death of an old friend/security guard could have been an alcohol-fueled accident or murder. At the beginning there was little evidence of murder, so I was forced to rely on Jeri Ryan and the victim's daughter's instincts that this death was foul play.
Nevertheless, the journey is the thing and Janet Dawson demonstrates fine storytelling skills which make this a worthwhile read.
Janet Dawson's website.
Review of Janet Dawson's Cold Trail.
Martin Hill Ortiz is the author of Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press.
|Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press|
Never Kill A Friend is available for purchase in hard cover format and as an ebook.
The story follows Shelley Krieg, an African-American detective for the Washington DC Metro PD as she tries to undo a wrong which sent an innocent teenager to prison.
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