In the Clearing (Tracy Crosswhite) Paperback – May 17, 2016
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From Publishers Weekly
A cold case preoccupies Tracy Crosswhite in Dugoni’s well-plotted third crime novel featuring the Seattle homicide detective (after 2015’s Her Final Breath). Klickitat County Sheriff Jenny Almond asks Tracy to take a look at a file that Jenny’s late father, retired sheriff Buzz Almond, held on to for forty years. One night in 1976, high school senior Kimi Kanasket never made it home from the diner where she worked. Her body was later found in the White Salmon River, and her death was ruled a suicide. Buzz, then a deputy sheriff, did his duty by retracing Kimi’s route home, but he was later told by the detective in charge, Jerry Ostertag, to leave the investigation alone. In the present, Buzz’s file and the help of experts like senior crime scene analyst Kaylee Wright and forensic anthropologist Kelly Rosa put Tracy on the trail of four former high school football stars known as the Four Ironmen. Tracy displays ingenuity and bravery as she strives to figure out who killed Kimi.
“Dugoni’s third Tracy Crosswhite novel (after Her Final Breath) continues his series’s standard of excellence with superb plotting and skillful balancing of the two story lines. VERDICT: New readers can enjoy this as a stand-alone; they and series fans will be captivated by the issues and foibles that drive Tracy and strengthen her resolve.” —Library Journal, Starred Review
“Tracy is a well-crafted character...Readers of the first two books will enjoy this one, and, because it can be read as a stand-alone, newcomers can jump right in.” —Booklist
“Dugoni has become one of the best crime novelists in the business...Dugoni brings humor, emotional resonance, and gripping prose to his entire cast of characters. Newcomers will seek out the previous two novels in the series, and readers of the earlier entries will love this one as well.” —RT Book Reviews, Top Pick
“[Robert Dugoni] tops himself in the darkly brilliant and mesmerizing In the Clearing, an ironically apt title for a tale in which nothing at all is clear...Dugoni, once known for Grisham-esque legal thrillers, continues to expand his considerable talents on a much broader canvas, staking out a claim to literary relevance established by the likes of Tony Hillerman and John D. MacDonald. Clearly not to be missed.” —Providence Rhode Island Journal
“In the Clearing is Dugoni’s third crime novel featuring the Seattle homicide detective. Tracy Crosswhite returns in a well plotted narrative that presents readers with a complex and engrossing story to keep them turning the pages to the last. Recommended for all fans of modern detective fiction.” —AuthorLink
“Not to be missed. The characters and case will draw you in and hold you til the last page.” —Night Owl Reviews
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The novel opens in southern Washington state with the death of a young Native American woman in 1976. The death is ruled a suicide, but a brand new deputy sheriff, Buzz Almond, doesn’t believe so. He does a thorough investigation. He has his suspicions but the investigation turns cold.
The storylines jumps to modern day — 2016 in this case. Tracy receives a call of a shooting in an upper-class community. It was domestic violence where the husband was shot by the wife. The wife’s father is a prominent and contentious defense attorney. It looks like an open and shut case, but all isn’t as it seems and becomes quite complex very quickly.
The storyline moves to southern Washington with the funeral of Buzz Almond. Tracy and her boyfriend, Dan, are invited to the funeral by Jenny Almond, Buzz’s daughter. Jenny was a classmate of Tracy’s at the Police Academy. She became homesick and returned home to follow in her father’s footsteps. She asks Tracy to review the case file that her father had kept all those years of the young Native American woman’s death to see if there was something there. While the death did not occur within her jurisdiction, she would grease the skids with the local police for Tracy. Tracy accepts but must clear it with her captain and longtime nemesis. Both storylines proceed with interesting twists and turns that captured and maintained my attention throughout the entire novel.
The B-storyline is rich. The relationship between Tracy and her boyfriend, Dan, is maturing with significant steps occurring in this book. The major B-storyline concerns Tracy’s partner, Kins, and his marriage. These B-storylines are woven into the main storylines very naturally and enrichens the enjoyment of the novel for me.
This novel uses only four f-bomb and a few more minor uses of vulgar language. All of it was consistent with the characters and situation. There wasn’t any graphic sex. Therefore, these two areas should not stop anyone from reading this novel. The author provides adequate backfill for any points from the previous novels that pertain to this novel.
As I wrote at the start of this review, I recently completed the sixth novel in this series. I enjoyed that novel so much that I just needed to go back read the one novel that I had skipped. I really enjoyed reading this novel. I give it five stars and strongly recommend it to all to read.
The secondary murder takes place in Tracy's hometown of Seattle and involves a case of domestic abuse. Her usual supporting cast are busy solving this one. for good measure, Mr. Dugoni has thrown a twist in here as well.
The main protagonist, Tracy Crosswhite and her supporting cast from the Seattle PD are very well developed. The Crosswhite novels are a bit different in that they methodically detail the crimes as thrillers. They also detail the solving of the crimes very well as police procedurals.
Once again, Mr. Dugoni just keeps moving forward steadily. He wastes no chapters with unwanted fillers or fluff.
This is the 3rd installment of the original trilogy. A 4th book is in the works due in Jan. 2017.
Top international reviews
Dugoni’s mistake was trying to run two cases in tandem: one current and one cold. The aim was to show how solving one could trigger insight into the other. Fair enough, but there was a huge imbalance in their treatment. So much so that the recent murder actually seemed an irrelevance, a distraction even from the main narrative.
The real meat was in the reopening of a 20 year-old case involving the suicide of a young Native American woman. Fresh evidence has come to light and Tracey suspects a coverup for murder. While the mechanics of the investigation, in particular the forensics, are detailed and compelling, the actual rolling out of the plot is just plain dull. The story had great possibilities, but there were too many diversions and an inordinate number of characters who simply had no business being there.
Up until I read this book, I considered Tracey Crosswhite to be a brilliant detective heroine. Her back story - leaving teaching to join the police following the murder of her sister - gives her great motive and integrity. But Dugoni really missed an opportunity here to further develop the personal side of Tracey. I think most readers favor well-rounded characters with recognizable human emotions, foibles, strengths and weaknesses, but sadly Tracey hasn’t evolved at all from the person she was in the last book. For example, it would have been nice to explore more her relationship with boyfriend Dan, but he pretty much popped in at the beginning and the end, and that was it. He might as well not have been mentioned at all.
All in all, I think Dugoni dropped the ball big time with this one. I hope he picks it up again for Detective Crosswhite’s next big case.
Thanks for reading my review. I hope you found it helpful. You can find more candid book reviews on my profile page.
I particularly enjoyed the 'cold case' story-line. I won't spoil your enjoyment by revealing too much about the plot but Robert Dugoni's style of writing is so effective that as I read it I found myself reminiscing about my high school days in Canada in the late 1960s (even though this story is set in northern USA and the mid 1970s)! The cold case story features more prominently in the book than the case set in the modern day and I think the book is the better for this. I found the cold case far more interesting to follow as Tracy Crosswhite and her colleagues use current developments in forensic science to uncover new evidence that would not have been available forty years earlier. The only (minor) criticism I would have is the convenience of having so much evidence available to work with 40 years on. The second case takes a different angle as Tracy and her colleagues attempt to discover if the person who has admitted to a murder actually committed it or if they were covering up for the actions of someone else. Sorry, but you'll have to read the story to find out.
So overall, another terrific book from Robert Dugoni that I hope you will find as enjoyable to read as I did.
Now I know book 1 was set around Tracy's sister Sarah's murder case but I did find in this one it got a little tiresome that it was mentioned so often and I just saw in the synopsis of book 4 that it's a theme once more. Too many people Tracy happened upon had grey hair, too, I found. At the beginning we're told Kimi had been dating for six months, going back to the end of the last year but we were already in November so that's closer to a year by my maths. I've no idea what a grounder is and even Google was no help !! There were mentions of Angela making 2 phonecalls to different people at the same time. That was written correctly later in the story but not the first time so that was a little confusing. And Americans love their acronyms, don't they ? I had to keep looking them up-REI, USGS, etc....I did have a mumble under my breath about those. Another baffling moment was after she found the clinic a chap had visited and refers to psychotherapy and mental health but it hadn't been mentioned at all what type of facility it was so I wondered how SHE knew. He does it again when she visits Sam for the second time and he goes straight to a box of archived newspapers without her telling him the date she'd wanted to see....and yet again I was lost by "When UW (I figured this acronym) came knocking, that was all she wrote".....huh ?? Someone had been sick in the clearing yet Buzz hadn't spotted that or mentioned it and he was no slouch.
I chuckled to myself at Jenny knowing what her son's crying in the garden was all about. I don't have kids but CAN relate with my dogs as they have differing barks so I know when they really mean it !! I really liked the characters of Sam and Adele. They were lovely folks. I also enjoyed how we saw November 1976 through differing eyes and points of view. I liked the way that was done.
Once again I loved the dedication for Joe and also the way Catherine's described in the Acknowledgements-she sounds a gem. I'm pleased I get to stick with this series.
Starting to enjoy the relationship between Tracy and Dan.
Would recommend this series....
I found it interesting, exciting and the human side, touching.
This is the second of the Tracy Crosswhite series I have read and I couldn't put it down, really enjoyed it. On to another I think!
I enjoy this type of book otherwise I would not be reading them.