The Devil You Know: A Hollywood Mystery
The Devil You Know #3 by P.J. Tracy
Publish Date 1/17/23; 320 pages
Thanks to #Netgalley and #stmartinsminotaur for the complementary copy of the book for review. The opinions are my own. This is my first Tracy novel and I see that it used to be a writing duo of mother and daughter and now is only the daughter. I've also learned that PJ Tracy is the writing duo of the popular Monkeewrench series - which I've not read yet.
First Sentence: "The ocean was singing in the hushed, undulating tones of low tide on this still, damp night. Nature's beguiling lullaby swelled and ebbed in Kira Tanner's body, transfixing her as powerfully as the mist-furred brilliance of the sickle moon hanging in a starless sky."
This book is a strong police procedural with the crime almost always at the front of the story. Set in Hollywood among the rich and famous, it's a nice change of pace to have a different focus than the usual scum-of-the-earth serial killers. However, a rich murderer is still a killer and have more resources to hide the crime. It seems like a straightforward plot. A famous actor is found dead after a big flashy Hollywood party. Within a couple days, the husband of the socialite party hostess is found dead in his 'love nest' along with a starlet. Soon after, the agent of the original actor is found dead. Holy Moly - how are these all connected?
There are plenty of suspects and twists and turns in the investigation from the rich socialite sister to the gorgeous femme fatale movie star. There's a deep fake video that starts the crime wave of multiple deaths within a certain family. As the clues and suspects pile up, the lead detectives have to work with other jurisdictions and agencies to try to pull all the strings together. I always like when the author shows the thought process of analyzing the evidence and trying to solve a case. My brain doesn't work that way, so I need the help. :)
I enjoyed the detective partnership of Maggie and Al and the auxiliary crime solvers were given enough of a personality/back story to feel like people. The suspects were interesting - not all of them slimey which makes it more interesting to me.
The writing style wasn't my favorite - and it's one of those things hard to quantify. The word choices were often too elaborate or too obscure (?) to read smoothly. I'd have to reread a sentence to make sure I understood what was being said. Maybe it's too many 50cent words just to use them? Not sure, it just didn't feel easy. Like this:
"And then emergent clarity swept away the mist of the netherworld that bridged sleep and alertness."
There were some references to previous installments, which is to be expected, but not so many that I felt lost in this book. I'd say it could be read as a standalone but, as with most series, I'm sure it's more enjoyable when you know everyone's backstory. All in all, a solid story and worth a read.
Challenges tagged (see my Challenges tab at the top of the page):
Cloak and Dagger: 2/36
Storygraph Mystery: 1/26
Literary Escape: 2/51 (California)