3 out of 4 stars
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If you stumble into a hateful group with a sinister plot knowing that you are hopelessly undermanned, what would you do? If the promising future of your loved one is threatened, how would you act? With Malice Aforethought by Thone Hevron shows the choices that people make out of love – love of family, of country and of self. It is the third book of the Nick and Meredith series. They are partner detectives so the series falls under the crime thriller genre.
Members of the Violent Crimes Investigation team, Nick Reyes and Meredith Ryan were investigating a possible homicide in the remote Sonoma county hills, guided by Raymond Cavanaugh, a seasoned rancher who found the body near his property. While trudging through the woods with limited phone signal, they unwittingly walked into the zone of the militia of the Covenant Family, a white nationalist extremist group. The Black Corps Team, headed by Steiner, twisted the beliefs and loyalties of the Family followers to achieve his own ends. He fanned their belief in being sovereign and that this allows them to decide which law to obey or ignore. He threatened to poison the local water with a bacterium that sickened half a million people unless he was paid handsomely not to do so.
There are beautifully-written phrases sprinkled throughout the book, such as, “Ferrua nodded automatically, then smiled when he got it” and “billowing rooster tail of dust”. The descriptions of scenery were very good, it was as if I was transported to the Sonoma hills. The details of police work felt authentic and believable; it was apparent that the author did her research. Those who are reading the book for the Nick and Meredith storyline will be gratified to learn that the book devotes a good amount of time to their relationship. The will-they won’t-they segments were discussed well to show their inner conflict now that Nick has been promoted. Despite this being the third book in the series, a reader who tackles this book first without having read the previous books will feel caught up through the retelling. I was rooting for Nick and Meredith for being mature in their approach. I also liked how Meredith bonded with Cavanaugh so they made a good team.
I was hoping for more physical descriptions though, to help differentiate the characters in my mind. There were also some continuity weaknesses, like it wasn’t clear from which detective Steiner stole the gun. The death scene in the beginning was almost forgettable; it should have been described more vividly to focus on the action. Punctuation errors were too many to count - the capitalization of the word “grandpa” was inconsistent, commas were either missing or not needed, there were sentence fragments that were better off combined, and there was misuse of question marks and quotation marks.
Due to the need for a thorough purging of typographical errors, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. Those who have a strong aversion to far-right rhetoric might do well to avoid this book. Guns are used but there are no overly gory descriptions of violence. Minimal curse words are used by the villains and there are no explicit sex scenes. Overall, it is a good read for its genre and is recommended to those who like military-themed action books.
With Malice Aforethought
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