Review: When an Iraqi war veteran commits "suicide by cop", FDLE detective Barrett "Bear" Raines is determined to understand why … but is side-tracked by a major crime investigation involving counterfeiting and money laundering along the Gulf coast in Devil's Slew, the fifth mystery in this series by Darryl Wimberley.
Quentin Hart lives in a marshy area of northwestern Florida known as Devil's Slew, home to wild hogs, panthers, and gators as big as bass boats. When the ex-Marine takes a hostage and fires recklessly at Bear and his partner, they have no choice but to take him down. Bear is torn up over the killing, but it is a clean shoot, not his fault. Still, he wants to know why the son of a good family, friends to Bear and his own, would do such a thing. But before he can get started, he's pulled into an investigation surrounding the kidnapping of a Federal agent, a woman who was planted as a casino employee in New Orleans to identify gamblers exchanging counterfeit bills for chips, then cashing out early, effectively laundering the currency. The authorities believe a crime syndicate is operating all along the Gulf coast, and in particular, involving local fisherman in Bear's jurisdiction.
The narrative in Devil's Slew is both folksy and edgy, an interesting mix that fits well with the characters, setting, and overall plot. For the most part a police procedural — nearly everything is known to the reader — it is nonetheless a bit tricky getting started, with multiple, competing storylines from different points of view. The various plot threads all come together in the end, of course, though the link between Quentin Hart's suicide and the Federal investigation is a bit tenuous and, given all that comes before it, rather disappointing. Also in the final chapters, Devil's Slew incorporates a couple of weakly developed whodunit elements, more as a means of tying up a few loose ends than to test Bear's deductive reasoning. All in all, a solid if somewhat imperfect entry in this mystery series.
Acknowledgment: Minotaur Books provided a copy of Devil's Slew for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Devil's Slew: Florida
— ♦ —
Devil's Slew by Darryl Wimberley — A Barrett Raines Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: March 2011
List Price: $25.99