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Book Review: Baby Shark’s High Plains Redemption by Robert Fate

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Robert Fate's first book, Baby Shark, has been optioned for a film.  That film company better find the right actress soon, because Fate's third book, Baby Shark's High Plains Redemption, is another action-packed, page turner.  His fast moving crime novel is as vivid and colorful as any movie.

In the third book in his hard-hitting series, Fate dumps Kristin Van Dijk (Baby Shark), and her partner, Otis Millett, into the middle of a bootleggers' fight. As usual, the two private investigators accepted a simple job that escalated into disaster.

Otis accepted a job to rescue Savannah Smike, a redheaded piano player who had been kidnapped from her boss and boyfriend, a bootlegger named Travis Horner. When Kristin interrupted at the tavern, she found a beat-up Otis, and a young woman who didn't seem to be all there mentally.  Suddenly, everything falls apart as one group of gunmen after another appear. It takes everything she has for Kristin to rescue Savannah and Otis. When they finally get Savannah home, they discover she's the daughter of Bull Smike, a powerful bootlegger in his own right. Otis and Kristin are suddenly targets, although they're not quite sure why someone is out to get them. The two detectives earn every penny, as they fend off hired killers.

Kristin knows she has a brutal, vicious job, one that most other women couldn't handle. However, after the murder of her pool hustler father, and her own rape, she had vowed she would never be a victim again. She has a hard time resolving her feelings for a police officer with her job. She says, "We work on the edge of the law … It gets blurry out there where Otis and I deal with things."  Kristin Van Dijk is a killer with a conscience. She's a strong young woman, who kills a man who beat her up, and then examines her ruined suede purse. "I didn't know why I ever thought I could have anything nice."  There's always a sly humor in Kristin's world, despite its cruel nature.

In 1957, Oklahoma is a dry state, where bootleggers pay off the "three P's" – police, politicians and preachers. It's a violent time, one that comes to life as a visual treat. Fate vividly describes the Friday Night Fights, with its crowds, sexy women and well-dressed men, and smoke filled room. His descriptions of the cars, roads, and people paints a picture of Texas and Oklahoma in the 1950s. And, Baby Shark's return to the pool halls to deal with the killers on her own turf, is a riveting account.

Baby Shark's High Plains Redemption marks Kristin's welcome return, along with her "family," Otis, Henry and her dog, Jim.  It's a powerful story that examines a vicious part of American history. Baby Shark continues the fight against dangerous men, in an intense novel that never lets up its blistering pace.

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