Published by Simon & Schuster
This novel came to me without any prior warning – a new series set to appeal to a younger crime audience but one that will appeal to regular crime fans too, and from the keyboard of proven crime writer Jodi Compton (Sympathy between humans, The 37th Hour).
So, I started, as with any new discovery by trying to second guess what I was likely to be in for based on the book jacket.
The front cover immediately led me to believe that this could be a new, younger, female, Jack Reacher and I also thought this could be just the book to bring my ten year old daughter into crime fiction – I was wrong on both counts. Particularly glad I didn’t hand it over to Georgia to read as I was sure I’d have had a few difficult questions such as why did Hailey Cain leave footprints on windows of boyfriends’ cars?
This is quite a different crime novel and a promising start to a new and interesting series (book 2 due in 2011) with a central character whose development could prove very intriguing in the future books.
I did struggle a bit with the first person narrative. Not something I usually mind – but this forty year old fella found it a bit of a stretch to read as a twenty year old girl, but I’m sure most will be just fine with it and the story flows just fine.
Hailey is a bike courier in San Francisco, but she has a past, a failed graduation at a Military Academy, and she holds secrets – one a very dark and personal secret.
We are told that a ‘tragic accident’ caused her to have to leave Los Angeles and although some indications are present, nothing readied me for the shock and twist that I never saw coming and left me reeling in the closing pages.
Hailey is asked, by an old high school friend, Serena, to safely escort a young girl back to her village in Mexico, but Hailey has no idea just how deep into gangland culture her friend has delved until it’s too late to turn and walk away. She takes on the challenge and the journey starts off okay, until the ambush, until the gunfire, until the kidnapping, leaving Hailey wounded, angry and in search of answers and justice.
The almost diary-like prose works well and the story cracks along once past a slightly stodgy section set in Serena’s gang-world and becomes very cinematic at times and more of a road-movie.
Just how many Hailey Cain books Jodi Compton has to offer up I couldn’t guess, but this first episode is a great start and, you know what, Hailey Cain could walk alongside Jack Reacher very well indeed, I think.
Keith B Walters