Standoff, by Patricia Bradley (Revell, 2020)
Drug trafficking. Secrets. Murder. And romance. Standoff delivers all this and more.
Brooke Danvers is excited to follow her father John’s career path as a law enforcement ranger, but before she can be sworn in, John is found dead. Suddenly her childhood crush Luke Fereday is back on the scene, staying next door to her at his grandmother’s house. Luke can’t tell her that he’s working undercover to infiltrate the local drug ring—or that he blames himself for not being there to provide backup for John.
When the official verdict on John’s death is suicide, Brooke and Luke band together to prove it wrong and find the killer. Luke, meanwhile, is walking a dangerous line with the leader of the drug ring.
Luke’s grandmother, Daisy, has been a mentor to Brooke for years. I like her gentle support when Brooke is struggling with her father’s death:
“You may never get that answer,” she said softly. “But it’s okay to ask God why.” [Kindle location 1210]
As well as grief, suspense, romance, and faith, the novel also touches on identity and trust. And while readers know who some of the drug villains are, the identity of John’s murderer is a mystery for which there are a number of suspects.
I always enjoy Patricia Bradley’s novels. The suspense is strong but not overpowering and the characters’ relationships and their faith make them feel like real people.
The town of Natchez, Mississippi, and the 444-mile-long Natchez Trace Parkway are real places. The official US National Park site says the Parkway “roughly follows the ‘Old Natchez Trace,’ a historic travel corridor.” And “parkway” doesn’t just mean “highway”—the road goes through park land where people can bicycle, camp, etc.
The setting is a key part of the novel, and it’s well-rendered without that annoying travel-brochure feel that some authors give to real-life settings in their fiction. Still I wish I’d looked it up online first to have a better understanding. I think the word “trace” threw me off, because I’d never heard it applied to a road before.
Standoff is book 1 in Patricia Bradley’s new Natchez Park Rangers series. For more about the author and her books, visit ptbradley.com.
[Review copy provided by the publisher via #NetGalley. My opinions are my own.]