In a situation where you find that you may be one of the good guys, but that those that would have your back in the usual course may be on the take, how do you move forward? When your entire team is killed and you are the survivor, how do you make others understand that rogues in law enforcement are often hard to spot? When your career is on the line, how would you move forward, when proof is beyond your grasp?
In On the Bayou by Sean Patrick Bridges, we follow the path of Special Agent Jennifer Nash as she finds herself in such a situation. After her entire team is killed in a shootout, she is put on leave. Given an opportunity to redeem herself as a ride-along with a DEA group in the swamps of Louisiana, she finds herself out of her depth quite quickly. Not only is her team attacked again, the villains from her first stake-out – where her partner and group were killed – appear to be involved in this situation as well.
She is forced to rely on men who do not trust her and are not aware of her background. Fleeing deeper into the swamps in an effort to save themselves and put an end to the killing, they only find themselves deeper in danger. The killers live amongst the swamps and use the creatures that lurk there as their toys and tools of punishment. Not knowing whom to believe in – even as each member of her new team is killed and mutilated – Nash takes a stab at teammate Corey as someone she can trust. But even he has his secrets as they begin the long journey to freedom.
Will they survive another day, or will the cartel win in the end? Can they find and stop the corruption from within, or is it too late for them as well? Bridges has given us a slow buildup to a frenetic showdown. The action is palpable and keeps you turning the pages. The killing in the beginning is not as climactic as expected – much too soon to get close to the characters – but as Agent Nash moves through the bayou with this new team of defenders you find your favorites and hope they are not the bad guys.
Surprise is evident at every turn as you find courage where you least expect it, yet you also find madness and despair. Some of the action is brutal and deadly, and often just plain cruel, yet the story keeps bringing you back. How will it end; who will survive? Who is really the rogue that turned on the team?
If you enjoy danger and suspense you will enjoy this work. I found the buildup slow and was not sure of my reaction, but once the action started the background proved necessary to gild the lily. Bridges has a talent for bringing in the unexpected and for finding the cruelty that exists in those special few individuals. This is the second work I have read of his, and he often borders on horror, with the madness and ideas that his characters create to keep themselves amused.
There is no lack of action or questions as you delve into the darkness and passions of Cajun life. The darkness and secrets of the bayou make their way into your view with the depth and depravity that seem just short of horror.
If you worry about swamps and gator country, don’t stop now. This is one that will keep you holding on to those fears.