Baby Shark's Beaumont Blues
Robert Fate, 2007
The second book in a series is probably hard on an author. The first book establishes the characters and readers decide if they care enough to stick with the author. With subsequent books, the author has to develop the characters and find new plots without losing what attracted readers in the first place. I've stopped reading books that had interesting plots because I didn't care about the characters so it isn't a matter of character driven vs plot driven story, it take both.
I loved Baby Shark and consider it one of my top reads of the year. Baby Shark's Beaumont Blues sucked me in right away and the only reason I didn't finish it in one day is because I had to sleep.
Beaumont Blues takes place about two years after the events in Baby Shark. Kristin Van Dijk has become a licensed private investigator and Otis Millett's partner. Together they are a destructive and often lethal team. Though Kristin is not yet twenty-one, Otis doesn't treat her as anything less than a partner he trusts to watch his back. There is no "watch out for the girl" attitude on the part of Otis. He trusts Kristin to shoot when shooting is necessary.
This time they are trying to protect a Texas oil heiress and make sure she is available when her father's will is read. She has to be present or the bulk of the estate goes to a televangelist. What seems like a straight forward assignment gets complicated very quickly. Kristin and Otis are not sure who is doing what to whom all the way to the end of the book. I found the ending very satisfying, by the way. The very bad people are part of a near-by crime lord's crew and if you have read Baby Shark you can predict their fate.
Oh, and I should mention, Baby Shark a love interest enters the picture. Has Kristin healed enough to be able to trust? Fate does a nice job showing that healing can take a long time.
If you like a strong female character - ready with a gun or knife - and plenty of hard-boiled action then you'll enjoy this book. If you are likely to be troubled by characters who don't see anything wrong with dispatching someone who needs to be dispatched without benefit of a trial then you might want to look for a cozy to read.
My only criticism is that Fate doesn't tell how the aftermath of the messy conclusion to Baby Shark was handled. Otis, Kristin, and Henry had a powerful lot of tracks to cover to keep from going to jail.
Fate is currently working on Baby Shark's Panhandle Caravan and I'll be watching for it.