Review: Laura Cardinal Series by J. Carson Black

I previously reviewed Darkness on the Edge of Town (Laura Cardinal Series, Book 1) by J. Carson Black back in April.

This past month, I binged on mysteries. After reading several, I found the second Laura Cardinal mystery that I'd bought back in the spring after reading the first book. (In my review of the first book, I had a quibble with the paranormal element because it was so ambiguous, almost as if the author was testing a paranormal edge but wasn't really committed to it. However, that didn't keep me from wholeheartedly recommending the book.

If you're looking for a sexy, kickass female cop, Laura Cardinal is not your girl. She seems to have no female ego. You'll never catch her primping in front of a mirror or going out of her way to please Tom, the man in her life. She's difficult, reserved, and doesn't seem to have many close friends. Indeed, intimacy is something she avoids, and she doesn't seem to realize that she makes herself isolated. Partly, this is because of her past, and partly it's because she's a criminal investigator with the Arizona Department of Public Safety. She's the one sent to small towns when there's a homicide.

Book 2: Dark Side of the Moon

When Dark Side of the Moon opens, Laura's world is undergoing change -- change she doesn't want, doesn't understand, and doesn't know how to stop. Laura and her insecurities are balanced by her aptitude for her job. In a "ripped from the headlines" story, Laura faces what everyone fears since 9/11.

By book's end, you'll be surprised and saddened, for the other characters and for Laura. You'll also be thoroughly hooked into buying the other books in the series.

Book 3: The Devil's Hour

In The Devil's Hour, Laura has been assigned to the cold case unit. With her usual astute ability to put the pieces of a puzzle together, she's perfect for this new job. In fact, by the end of the book, you'll probably wish she wasn't that good. The inexorable forward motion of the plot made me wish that it wasn't going to end the way it did. Yet the ending was perfect for the story even though it was wrenching for Laura.

Book 4: Cry Wolf

When I finished Book 3, I immediately purchased Book 4 by pre-order. The book published a couple of days later, and I was eager to read it. With this fourth book, it was like visiting a friend and finding her in better circumstances, optimistic even. Laura has another chance for the intimacy she's missed before, but that doesn't stop her from bringing down the bad guys. Cry Wolf may be her best book yet in this series.

All of the Laura Cardinal books are expertly plotted and peopled with believable characters from the creepy to the evil and from the sad to the tragic. Laura with her back problems, her impatience with stupidity, and her dogged determination is someone you can identify with. I won't say much more about the characters because that would reveal too much about the workings of the respective plots.

Takeaway Truth

For an excellent mystery series, choose the Laura Cardinal Series by J. Carson Black.