Now it's no secret that I have a soft spot for crime fiction and I think I've also mentioned a few times on here that I am always on the lookout for a new series to get hooked into. When ECW Press e-mailed me offering a few new crime titles to review I tried my very best to refuse because this ongoing Girl vs Bookshelf battle is hard enough without temptations like that flying into my inbox. However after reading an excerpt from the first chapter of the second installment of RD Cain's Steve Nastos series, I was gripped and simply had to know what happened next. Bookshelf 1, Girl 0.
So as I've mentioned this is the second book in a series and usually I'm not keen on starting a series partway through, but I didn't find it to be a major problem here. We meet Steve Nastos at a difficult time in his life, having recently been publicly disgraced and lost his job in the police force. An old friend, Carscadden, has helped him out with a private investigating job and he's less than enthusiastic about getting involved as his wife is piling on the pressure for him to settle down to a quieter life. But when a wealthy family from one of Toronto's most prosperous suburbs gets in touch asking him to track down their missing teenage daughter, Lindsay, his thrillseeking tendencies get the better of him and soon he is sucked into the case.
The book opens with that intriguing first chapter I've already mentioned, where we find Lindsay trapped in a basement with several other teenage girls with no recollection of how or why she got there. Nastos finds out pretty quickly that she was adopted and spent most of her formative years on the wrong side of the tracks. So the book contains a whole host of seedy suspects including one of the most inhuman and depraved guilty parties I've come across in a long while. Some of their actions were quite literally jaw-dropping, my mouth was hanging open wide reading about the lengths they went to to get away with their crimes. Nastos himself also comes across as verging on sociopathic, to be honest, and doesn't hold back from doing anything it takes to get the information he needs.
Having a protagonist who is so impulsive and pushes right to the limits of what is generally socially acceptable certainly makes for unpredictable and exciting reading. Nevertheless, I also feel that Nastos' cold and impetuous personality was a drawback in other ways. He was difficult to like or engage with. A more sensitive side was hinted at only slightly when his daughter was mentioned and I would have liked to see this developed a bit more.
I don't often read crime thrillers in this mould, preferring to try and work out whodunnit for myself and having it revealed at the end. But it was certainly entertaining and I'd consider reading more in the series. It's interesting to note that RD Cain has worked as a paramedic, a firefighter AND a police officer which must give him a pretty unique take on life and I bet he has a wealth of experience to draw on when writing future books.