4 out of 4 stars
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With wealth comes power, and with power comes responsibility, and often risk. Kate Landers, the lead in Veronica Mixon’s novel Changing Tides, discovers exactly how deep and treacherous the downside of inhering family money can be. Following her recent divorce, Kate submerges herself in her work – managing the funds for her family business, passed down to her from her grandfather. An incident forces her and her son to move back to her family land, into one of the homes on the property, and almost immediately Kate notices that something is amiss. She and her son are followed by a boat and witness another boat trespassing on the family land. When Kate requests police assistance she is suddenly thrown into the middle of a DEA investigation, with the prime suspect being her cousin Calvin. Agents set up base on her family property, searching for evidence and building their case, and Kate realizes that her family is involved in something far more nefarious than she previously imagined.
Complicating matters is the fact that her role as the business accountant puts Kate in the hot seat of suspicion as well, and even if she is not arrested, her cousin’s arrest would result in negative publicity for their family business. Kate begins to dig around, trying to find a lead before the federal agents do, so she can minimize the outfall and complete an important refinancing transaction for the company. However, as more doors are opened and pieces fall into place, the threat to herself (and her son) grows dramatically. This is no longer a simple case of stalking; what Kate and the agents face now is a situation involving a drug cartel, missing persons, dead bodies, and millions of dollars. Worst of all, by all appearances, the culprit is someone on the inside – either a member of Kate’s own family, or a member of the federal team assigned to work the case. Kate must determine whom she can trust, and do all she can to keep her son, herself, and her family business safe.
Family money and family secrets often travel together, and there is no shortage of secrecy and deception in this story. Each of the characters involved has a checkered past, and the author expertly weaves the carefully-placed details back in when they become relevant to the present-day events. The character development lends a richness to the events and helps explain the motives of those involved, resulting in a visible personality progression for several of the key players. Ms. Mixon is good at tying up loose ends – each clue lays the foundation for a complex and intriguing climax, and the action builds to a dramatic and satisfying conclusion.
The plot is well thought-out, and the elements of mystery, deception, betrayal and distrust permeate the story, setting an anxious and suspenseful mood. This is a story packed with action and I believe it would translate well into a screenplay; readers who prefer a more pensive and psychological work may find that this story moves a bit fast. Characters are quick to decipher clues, jump to conclusions, and spring into action – sometimes to their own peril. This is a perfect story for a quick read, like an airplane ride, and would resonate well with readers who enjoy exciting and well-crafted action/adventure stories, as well as Agatha Christie-style mysteries.
One unique stylistic element is the back-and-forth switching of perspective from one chapter to the other. Every other chapter is written from Kate’s perspective, giving us a glimpse into her fear and confusion as she navigates the events that have befallen her family. The alternating chapters are written in third person, which provides a more holistic account, and allows the reader to watch events that develop outside of Kate’s consciousness. Though it took me a handful of chapters to get used to the switching, I enjoyed that it provided me a fuller knowledge of events than if I had heard the story from only one perspective. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars, and recommend it to anyone looking for a quick and exciting read.
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