Sunday, February 26, 2023

Hide (Harriet Foster #1) by Tracy Clark: Reading Room Review


In 2018 Broken Places by Tracy Clark was published.  It’s the first book in four books featuring PI Cassie Raines.  The buzz about this new author and book was loud and widespread.  Her next three books in this series continued to garner high praise and awards and nominations for awards.  I knew I wanted to read her, but I was having trouble fitting in a new author, even though I love adding new authors to my reading.  Finally, I have cleared my reading decks and read Ms. Clark’s first book in her new Detective Harriet Foster Thrillers, Hide.  Yeah, I’ll be going back and reading her first four, too. 

Harriet Foster is a homicide detective in Chicago with almost 20 years’ experience and a great skill set.  She is just starting with a new team of detectives in a new precinct after an eight-week leave due to the suicide of her long-time detective partner, Detective Glynnis Thompson, who was also her best friend.  Add to that the not-so-distant murder of Harriet’s son Regie and a divorce, and the job is all that Harriet has left.  Harriet’s skills will be put to the test in her first case on the new team, a serial killer targeting red-headed women with blue eyes. 

First paired with Jim Lonergan, a detective who is lacking in social graces and who seems incompatible with a female partner, and a new murder case straightaway, Harriet has a thoroughly rough first day back.  Trying to prevent Lonergan from railroading a young black teen found unconscious near the scene for the murder of Peggy Birch, Harriet must carefully use the rules of procedure to work in the young man’s favor.  With her also being black, she knows that she has to leave color out of the matter to ensure her co-workers see her as impartial and not out to free someone because of race.  It’s ironic that Harriet holds herself to being color blind, but her partner doesn’t seem to do that in the reverse.  But, she doesn’t have to use that discrimination factor here; she uses the evidence and lack of it in the way it should be used, showing just what an excellent detective she is.  It’s obvious from the start just how dedicated Harriet is to putting in the time past her regular hours to catch a killer, the real killer. 

The young woman who was murdered was found on Chicago’s Riverwalk and covered by leaves where there were no trees from which to gather them.  An arm sticking out from the pile catches the attention of an early morning jogger which brings the police, including Lonergan and Harriet.  It’s a brutal killing with the victim cut open in a style reminiscent of Jack the Ripper’s penchant for evisceration.  When another woman with red hair and blue eyes is found murdered near the scene of the first murder, it becomes a case of a serial killer, and pressure to find the killer increases incrementally.  The whole team is short on sleep and operating with frayed nerves. 

A psychiatrist shows up at the police station with a name of a recent patient who she thinks is a serious person of interest for the murders.  This psychiatrist also seems to have her own agenda though, and while investigating the ex-patient, Harriet doesn’t take anybody else’s word for what evidence needs to prove.  The young man, Bodie Morgan, is indeed an odd duck, who has a stalking record for red-headed women, and his twin sister Amelia is very protective of him. The pair has a dark family history they are desperately trying to keep secret.  Bodie does get added to the persons of interest list, but that list starts to get rather complicated. 

Hide is an engrossing police procedural combined with psychological thriller, showing both the meticulous investigating of Harriet’s team and the machinations of a serial killer.  From the initial examination of the murder scene to the autopsy to running down the clues and evidence to interrogation, this story should more than satisfy fans of police procedurals.  Harriet herself is determined to follow the evidence and not feelings. The insight into the criminal mind, or criminally insane mind, sends chills not explanations. The story is told from multiple POVs, those of the detectives and suspects, so readers gain information from both sides.  Of course, Harriet is the main character and gives readers the most direction.  

Nature vs. nurture, genetic coding vs. environment are issues the reader will be left to think about in this serial killer intrigue.  Racism and sexism are also issues that arise.  Harriet Foster is a character who has made her life and her world smaller on purpose.  She really has pared her life down to just her job; she is no longer interested in more.  She doesn’t give a lot up about herself in this first book of the series, but readers know there is much there waiting to come out.  I am already impressed with Harriet as a detective, and I look forward to seeing if she allows anyone to get to know her beyond that.  After all, characters evolving is what keeps a series strong.  There are twists on all fronts in this investigation, and this story has a high-octane, surprise ending that finishes with a bang.   

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