Title: Hot Start by David Freed
Cordell Logan Mystery Series Book Five
Publisher: The Permanent Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 312 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author
A notorious, international big game hunter and his beautiful, former flight attendant wife are gunned down at long range late one sweltering summer night while swimming naked on their seaside estate in opulent Rancho Bonita, California. Police investigators are convinced that the killer is a strident, outspoken animal rights activist with both military experience and a criminal record. The evidence against him would appear overwhelming–until rumors begin to surface that others may have had their own reasons for committing murder.
The last thing flight instructor, aspiring Buddhist, and ex-government assassin Cordell Logan wants to do is become involved in the investigation. He and the accused, however, have mutual friends. Reluctant at first, Logan finds himself caught up in an increasingly confounding enigma, one that swirls around a popular Congressman with close ties to the White House, a European call girl ring, and a ruthless Czech crime boss who’ll stop at nothing to protect his interests. Pursuing the truth will take Logan to places few others would dare go, exposing him to dangers that even he may not survive.
Along with its four predecessors in the Cordell Logan mystery/thriller series–Flat Spin, Fangs Out, Voodoo Ridge, and The Three-Nine Line—Hot Start is a can’t-put-it-down page-turner that will leave audiences breathless. Critics from Booklist to Publisher’s Weekly to the Associated Press have hailed the series for its veracity and fine writing, vivid characters, generous dollops of humor, and the kind of pacing that keeps readers up at night.
Hot Start may well be the best yet.
Hot Start is an intriguing whodunit starring flight instructor and amateur sleuth Cordell Logan. This fifth installment in David Freed’s fantastic series can easily be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend the previous novels as well.
In the midst of a stretch of unseasonably hot and miserable temperatures, Cordell, at the behest of his former father in law Gil Carlisle, finds himself investigating the double homicide of big game hunter and safari charter owner Roy Hollister and his wife Toni. Local police are convinced Carlisle’s nephew, animal rights activist and former military sniper Dino Birch, is responsible for the murders since he made no secret of his vehement dislike of Hollister. While not fully convinced of Birch’s innocence but unable to say no to Carlisle’s request, Logan uncovers a troubling connection between Hollister, local Congressman Pierce Lovell and an international call girl ring. With a little help from good friend and former colleague Buzz, Logan follows the puzzling clues to Prague where he barely escapes with his life. Once he is safely back in California, the sizzling hot weather is cooling down just as his investigation is heating up. Under intense pressure from Washington to prevent a political scandal, Cordell’s life is soon in danger as he tries to fit the various pieces of the puzzle together before it is too late.
The summer heat is putting a dent in Logan’s efforts to keep his struggling flight instruction business afloat when Carlisle asks him to take a look at the case against Birch. Unable to say no to his ex-father-in-law’s request, Cordell begins his investigation with a rather unhelpful jailhouse interview with Dino. While Birch’s vague answers do not exactly convince Logan of the activist’s innocence, he still owes it to Carlisle to continue looking into the case. After discovering evidence the police overlooked immediately following the murders, he zeros in on the possible sniper’s nest but unfortunately, he finds damning evidence that points right back to Dino.
Still doggedly pursuing leads, Logan begins looking into Roy’s surprising connection to local politician Lovell. What he learns then takes the case in a very unexpected direction so he turns to Buzz for help. With his friend’s assistance, he travels to Prague for a meeting with Czech crime boss Emil Sokol whose business dealings tie him to both Hollister and Congressman Lovell. After a rather unpleasant encounter with some very unsavory thugs, Logan’s meeting with Sokol reveals possible political corruption that Washington would prefer to keep under wraps.
Now under orders to take care of the situation before this information is leaked to the press, Logan returns to California where he continues his investigation. Rumors about Toni begin to surface and Cordell turns his attention to Roy’s wife in hopes of uncovering a possible motive for the murders. Is it possible the police have been looking at the case all wrong? Instead of Roy being the killer’s target, could Toni have been who the murderer was after all along? Interesting speculation, but will Logan find any evidence to back up this rather unlikely theory?
With plenty of twists and turns and snatches of unexpected humor, Hot Start is another fast-paced and entertaining addition to David Freed’s Cordell Logan Mystery series. Logan is an intrepid sleuth who once again puts his formidable skills as a former covert government operator to work as he diligently investigates the double homicide. A perplexing mystery with a vast pool of suspects and no clearly defined motive, the novel careens to a highly pulse-pounding, adrenaline filled conclusion. An absolutely superb installment that mystery lovers are sure to love.