Title: The Red Hot Fix by T.E. Woods
A Justice Novel (Book Two)
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 284 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
In the white-knuckle follow-up to her explosive debut novel, The Fixer, T. E. Woods returns with another tense, intricate thriller.
What do you say, Morton Grant, Chief of Detectives? You got what it takes to find me? Show me a move. . . . Or I’ll have to show you one of mine.
A little more than a year after the Fixer killings, Detective Mort Grant of the Seattle PD once again has his hands full. In the last four months, seven men have been murdered in seedy pay-by-the-hour motels: first strangled, then tied with rope and set on a bed of crushed mothballs, with a red lipstick kiss planted on their foreheads. Speculation abounds that the killer is a prostitute who’s turning her tricks into dead men. The press has taken to calling her “Trixie.”
As Mort follows scant leads in the case, he can’t help but feel continued guilt over his involvement with the Fixer. Though the public holds her up as a folk hero, a vigilante who seeks justice when the system fails, Mort cannot shake the fact that serious crimes have been committed. And though legend says she has vanished, Mort knows exactly where the Fixer is—and he’s conspiring to keep her hidden.
As Trixie strikes again, Mort suddenly finds himself and his family in the crosshairs. Because these new murders are not random, and their perpetrator is hell-bent on luring Mort into a sick and twisted game. If he’s not careful, he’s going to need Fixing.
The Hot Fix by T.E. Woods another suspense-laden and puzzling mystery starring Detective Mort Grant and his colleagues Jimmy DeVilla, Micki Petty and Jimmy’s canine partner, Bruiser. Lydia Corriger is also back in action, but in this outing, she takes more of a peripheral role since she is still attempting to shed her “fixer” persona.
As with the first book in the series, The Hot Fix consists of a few story arcs that slowly merge together. The primary storyline focuses on Mort’s investigation of a serial killer nicknamed “Trixie”. Several men have been found murdered in pay by the hour motels and evidence from the crime scenes points to a single killer. Working on the supposition that Trixie is a working girl, Mort hopes that a local support group for parents who have lost children to prostitution can provide him insight into what would turn a hooker into a killer. Mort’s interest is piqued by the charming founder but is the grieving widower ready for a relationship?
One of the other subplots involves a highly successful and wealthy family whose business interest include a sporting goods company and ownership of a professional basketball team. Self-made businessman Reinhart Vogel has turned over the reins of the store to his stepson Pierce but the two do not see eye to eye on a planned business expansion. Reinhart’s wife Ingrid is in charge of the basketball team, but with their spot in the playoffs threatened by a glory hound player, Vogel overrides her decisions and eventually assumes control of the decisions for the team. This part of the storyline ultimately ties in with Trixie, but it takes about half the book for the threads to connect.
Lydia’s portion of the storyline is independent of the serial killer investigation but she does provide valuable information for Mort once he has Trixie in custody. Much of Lydia’s story centers around a neglected girl that she meets while trying to put her days as a vigilante behind her. When Lydia uncovers the truth about the young girl, she tries to find justice through normal channels, but when that fails, will she take matters into her own hands?
Since The Red Hot Fix is the second novel with the same characters, we see firsthand the progress they are making with their various issues. Mort is still deeply grieving not only the loss of his wife, but he is also dealing with his guilt over the circumstances surrounding his daughter Allie’s disappearance. This troubled relationship is neatly balanced by his close relationship with his son Robbie and the two of them once again join forces during the investigation. Mort is also distressed over his decision to hide Lydia’s crimes but ultimately he knows he made the right call. They are still close friends, but Lydia’s fears of someone discovering her true identity force her to limit their contact.
Lydia’s character is most intriguing and she is struggling to put her past behind her. Watching her try to balance the disparate sides of her personality is quite fascinating. She is a warm, compassionate and caring woman and readers experience this side of her as she nurtures her relationship with Maizie, the young child she befriends. However, once she discovers Maizie’s secrets, the dispassionate, methodical killer emerges and I honestly had no idea exactly how this part of the storyline was going to be resolved.
The Red Hot Fix is a little slow until about the half-way point, but once the secondary storylines come together, it becomes much faster paced. T.E. Woods once again keeps readers off-balance with a number of unexpected twists and turns and she brings the novel to a dramatic and unexpected conclusion . Shocking revelations about Mort’s daughter neatly set up the next novel in series and I am eagerly anticipating the resolution of their uneasy relationship.
Read my review of The Fixer HERE.