Red Tide is a great mystery--a whodunnit and a what done it--wrapped up in a page turning thriller. It’s rare when a debut book in a much scrutinized genre is written this well. The story and premise is original, the plot excellently executed, the dialog drives the piece along at a relentless pace (I finished the book at 2:36 a.m. and if I hadn’t been so satisfied, I would have been mad at myself since 5 a.m. was just around the corner and not to be avoided). The characters seem plucked from real life, and their traits, foibles and daily life are things that aren’t just topical but very much at the forefront of current events. And there are many characters, but the reader won’t have a hard time keeping them all straight, they are all individuals, memorable and necessary. Brantley is to be applauded for this if nothing else; she kept all those different balls in the air until the grand finale. Well done!
Brantley draws the Colorado scenery in such a masterful way that you’ll be tempted to stop and shop for skis and check Expedia for hotels, but never fear, the book won’t allow you to put it down. Plot and story line; A+, character development a strong A, pace another A+, sense of place A+ and extra credit for both a plot device (the Red Tide of the title) and issues that are topical. You can’t get much better than that your first time out of the gate, but I’d bet money that Brantley manages to get even better.
The story opens when FBI Agent Nick Grant accepts a call from a serial killer he helped put away more than a decade ago. Leopold Bonzer admitted killing 14 people, but only gave up the location of one grave. He is holding the knowledge of the location of 13 victims as a bargaining chip, but for what is the question. He seemingly is happy where he is at: Colorado’s Super Max prison, the Alcatraz of the Rockies.
But Bonzer is ready to trade now and Grant, who has been haunted for a decade by not being able to give closure to 13 families, is ready to listen. Bonzer is suddenly wanting to relocate out of the cold cement and steel facility. But not today, he wants it all in writing before he’ll give it up. But when Grant heads back to make the deal, the prison is in lock down, even cell phones are being jammed, attack dogs are loose and Grant has a fear of dogs. Grant also has a prescription drug problem.