Monday, January 20, 2020

The Boy

The Boy
by Tami Hoag
Recommended Ages: 14+

Nick Fourcade and Annie Broussard, a married couple of detectives with the Partout Parish (Louisiana) Sheriff's Office, have a little boy of their own. So it's hard on them when they have to investigate the home invasion murder of a 7-year-old boy, leaving his single mom physically and mentally traumatized. It gets even harder, however, with a father of an autistic rape victim blaming Nick for not solving the case, and an ethically challenged journalist trying to make him look bad, and a limelight-hogging sheriff threatening to fire his department's loosest cannon (wait, that didn't sound right), and other conflicts within the force. Plus, a key witness to the boy's last hours is missing. And no one quite understands why the killer let the boy's mother live. What secret from her past might be mixed up in this? Could she have done it?

This police detective story features a pair of cops who take their responsibility to the victims of crime with deadly seriousness. It means Nick skates perilously close to the line of being fired. It puts Annie in similar danger when she begins to suspect the sheriff of abusing his fiancee and her teenage son. School bullying, juvenile delinquency, drug problems, abuse of power and hidden-camera pornography also enter the story line.

Ultimately, their investigation puts both Nick's and Annie's lives in danger – which is to say, it's a crime thriller of our time. What puts it in a class by itself is the deep south, Louisiana twang spoken by many of the characters, with the added Cajun dialect of a central few – people who swear in French. I wanted to read this book aloud, to feel the texture of speech from that part of the country on my tongue. Also, the book does a good job of making the reader feel anger toward certain characters and pity toward others – and not always whom you would expect.

Tami Hoag's latest (2018) novel is the second "Broussard and Fourcade" mystery, following up on the 1997 novel A Thin Dark Line. With titles dating back to 1988, Hoag is a prolific mystery/thriller/romance author, whose titles include six "Kovac/Liska" thrillers, two "Hennessy" books, an interconnected "Rainbow Chasers" trilogy, three "Quaid Horses" books, a "Doucet" trilogy, two "Deer Lake" novels, two "Elena Estes" books, and the "Oak Knoll" trilogy, whose first two books are the only other Hoag titles I have read so far. Besides this, Fantastic Fiction lists another nine standalone novels.

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