Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman (Minotaur, March 2013)-Masterman has given us a unique heroine to root for: Brigid Quinn, a 59 year old former FBI agent, who, in many ways, has just really started her life. She’s deeply in love with her husband Carlos, but has painstakingly tried to keep her past dealing with the darkest kinds of criminals out of their perfect life. But, her past seems determined to catch up with her when she’s attacked by a serial killer that happens to like women of a certain age. She survives that attack, but the aftermath sets her on a course of secrets and lies that could threaten her new life, and her marriage. A man named Floyd Lynch has just confessed to the murder of Brigid’s former colleague, a woman named Jessica who Brigid adored and who was sure would take her place. This has haunted Brigid, and as much as she wants to see it solved, and also to bring closure to Jessica’s father, something about Lynch doesn’t sit right with Brigid, and she sets out to find out the truth of his claims, along with the new FBI agent on the case, Laura Coleman, who finds a mentor in Brigid.
Brigid’s voice is one of the most unique and intriguing that I’ve ever read in crime fiction, and although she’s a fierce woman, able to kick butt with the best of them, her crippling insecurity about herself and her perceived threat to her marriage (set in motion by a past love that spurned her when he learned certain details about her job), makes her a relatable and vulnerable one, even as it prompts some questionable decision making on her part. She’s a little reckless, but I kind of like that about her, and her willingness to plunge headlong into danger is one of the things that made her so good at her job, and indeed, a huge force to be reckoned with.
This is not only an intricately plotted, tightly wound (and multiple award nominated) thriller, but we don’t get many books that celebrate healthy sex lives and romance in middle age, and Becky Masterman contrasts the delicate, sun soaked beauty of Brigid and Carlos’s marriage with the utter depravity that Brigid must face while tracking down a particularly cruel killer. Come for the mystery, but stay for Brigid. I rooted for her so hard, in spite of her missteps, and indeed, Masterman tops things off with a helluva conclusion. This one just screams “big screen”, preferably starring Helen Mirren! Keep your eye out for Fear the Darkness in January.