The following public service announcement was NOT brought you by Robin Spano and ECW Press (Though they did provide me a free review copy of this book).
The mixed reaction people feel to a train wreck is commonly kept a secret. Publicly, you say 'Oh gee, how terrible, I hope no one got hurt'. Internally you have a rapid blink response to the tail lights ahead of you, initial reaction being 'Ooh! Was that blood? I hope that is Blood!'. You know that things are not as they should be, that problems are occurring, that someone has thoroughly screwed the pooch. You keep looking, craning your neck hoping for a glimpse of the problem while ambivalently hoping everyone is safe. This book is like a spectacular and awesome train wreck.
So what is it about? What did I think? In Death's Last Run, Vengel who was recently made a US FBI Agent, is pulled back to Canada to work a dual RCMP/FBI case. This Case is set in a Canadian Ski town, tracking the dead daughter of a US Presidential hopeful. It is a toss up between murder and suicide, with Clare integral to infiltrating a close knit group of stoners, drunks, ski bums and acid heads. She rooms with some suspects, does some drugs and breaks some rules. She takes up snowboarding, drinks micro brews, sniffs out clues and takes ridiculous risks to get the job done.
The overall plot was solid, flipping back and forth in classic Spano style from the perspectives of suspects, police, and alternate characters. As per the norm, whodunnit spoilers do not exist and the novel is crafted well and allows you to enjoy it with out having the entire plot handed to you on a platter. I grew to like and understand the bad guys,and "understood" the motives better than I ever could in a Sherlock Holmes book.
But enough about the novel, let's get back to Clare herself.."The Trainwreck"-
Clare Vengel of the 'Clare Vengel Undercover' series is a spiteful, clumsy, juvenile, backward, unreasonable, messed up woman with literal daddy issues. Her inability to exist in the world and share a grain of truthful emotion is frustrating. She treats her boyfriend like an enemy; her FBI and RCMP colleagues similarly, with unbridled unprofessional distaste; her family and friends are ignored because she cannot get over.. Never mind, you get the point.
When I saw this wreck, there was no stopping me driving by. I wanted to see it. I opted to pick up the novel and lovingly gawp at the greatness of another Vengel story. For readers of the previous novels, you will find that Clare is seemingly worse than before, uncontrollably juvenile at points, taking pages from all of the world's angsty teenage stereotypes. She drove me CRAZY. I wanted to see blood. Externally I cared to see Clare succeed in her current case; Internally I really was scoping for blood at the crash site, wanting to see a body part or two and red clotted snow.
I kept hoping for her to falter, hoped the universe would slap a cluepon down onto her lap. In the end, as with the train wreck, when i see that she comes out okay in the end, i forget about the instinctive need to view a corpse and am instead glad to see she came out on top, as always.
Clare Vengel.. I hope you continue to succeed in your escapades, regardless of the desire to see people line up and smack you to sense like on the 1980 movie Airplane!.