DEUCE MORA DOESN'T SHY AWAY FROM FIGHTS - SHE PICKS THEM. THE BIGGER THE BETTER.Although, to be fair, this one is brought to her by a dog with a bone in his teeth. In Jean Heller's first Deuce Mora mystery, the scrappy female sleuth tangled with the mob; this time out she's on the wrong side of the NSA, the FBI and the CIA. At a minimum. Fans of hard-boiled female protagonists should hang onto their fedoras-- this one's an action-packed extravaganza!
The grisly discovery of a human bone while Deuce is out for a hike with handsome arson investigator Mark Hearst leads to the unearthing of a vast burial field, a human trafficking ring, and international intrigue. The pull-no-punches columnist-- and meticulous detective-- keeps turning up information, bit by bit, only to find some Fed in her face, at her door, emerging from the shadows, always guarding the edges of the story, insisting it will not be told. Yes, the Feds are aware of the trafficking ring; yes, they have a plan to move on it; no, Deuce can't be told about the plan; and under no circumstances can she write about its existence.
This is the story of a lifetime-- bigger than the Vinnie Colangelo story, which earned Deuce and the Journal a Pulitzer, and, for once, she has the support of her editor, but the Journal's lawyer appears daily, bringing warnings about "national security." What, Deuce seethes, could be a greater matter of national security than the safety of the city's children, who are being kidnapped and murdered?
And this story has become very personal for Deuce, as she herself admits, lamenting her loss of objectivity. The hard-hitting journalist has fallen hard for a new guy: a savvy and charming eight-year-old boy named Charles with the face of an angel and the possibility of a bright future, but at great risk due to a life in foster care. Already the street-smart kid has revealed a depth of knowledge about the failures of DCFS and the machinery meant to protect him. For Deuce, every child reported missing and every new body discovered in the hunting ground has Charles's face. But while she's racing to break the case wide open, her life and her career are threatened on all sides; she has to wonder where-- or if-- the Feds will stop to contain the horrific truth.
But break wide open it does, racing to an outrageous surprise ending that seems shockingly ... plausible, and Deuce learns first-hand the lesson that sometimes the only way to accomplish a great good is to commit unthinkable evil, and then learn to live with the consequences. Author Heller does a masterful job of expanding the story-- and her canvas-- from a simple murder mystery to an ever-widening crime thriller, and finally to an international conspiracy.
"Good reporters do not always good novelists make, but Jean Heller is both." -- The Boston Sunday Globe
WHO WILL LIKE IT: Fans of Chicago private investigators VI Warshawski and Libby Fischer Hellman's Georgia Davis, get-the-story-or-die reporters like Hank Philippi Ryan's Jane Ryland and Kelly Lange's Maxi Poole, hard-boiled female protagonists like Marcia Muller's Sharon McCone and Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan; and anyone who admires tough-minded women sleuths who're good in a fight.
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Used availability for Jean Heller's The Hunting Ground
October 2018 : Paperback
September 2016 : USA Paperback
October 2018 : USA, Australia, Canada, UK Kindle edition