I’ve reviewed other books in the Red Dog Conspiracy, but this one ties more closely to the prequels than the actual series in its focus on the commoner, in this case, a policeman. The struggle of those without power or influence in a world defined by those values is a favorite of mine, but often puts character agency at risk. Loofbourrow works around this by giving her characters agency within the limits of their position coupled with frustration at how those limits compromise the characters’ values. Drawing Thin is a strong example of this feat.
This book is true to the “guy on the street” view. It shows us the situation in Bridges isn’t as clear cut as previously believed, but rather, there are multiple parties unhappy with family rule even among officials. It also brings home the contradictions of trying to uphold the law when the ruling families are above it in both their actions and the ability to enforce their own rules brutally.
Paix Hanger is honorable and full of conviction. He is a crusader who has had to learn his crusade is tainted. It has hindered his career in the past and continues to make things difficult. Paix struggles with this when others accept it as life.
He’s a good man. People trust him and want to help him, but his own convictions make that difficult. Those convictions sometimes lead him astray, and even when they don’t, they put others around him at risk. I liked how he didn’t hold to his vision and ignore contrary evidence when presented with it. Instead, he attempted to come to terms with what he learned. While I didn’t always support his choices, I respected him for his approach.
This sounds like the story has only one character, which isn’t true, though Paix is very much the focus as well as the POV. Many others who appear only briefly or are critical throughout are given just enough backstory or personality to bring them to life. You get a real sense of the hierarchy and how even childhood friendship plays a part in who looks out for whom.
The case Paix is working is horrific, involving as it does kidnapping and crimes against children. It puts his convictions to the test as little else could, revealing friends where before he’d thought he had none and showing even those protected by the Spadros Family are not safe. His work forms both the background and the crucial pressure in his struggle, but more than that, the insights he gains affect his perception of his personal choices and brings everything he thought he knew into question. Whether it’s because of Bridger morality or the families’ power, Paix is caught on a precipice where every choice has costs for him and those around him, friend or foe.
This story is constrained by the events in the first book of the Red Dog Conspiracy. I think it did a good job of using those events to get the heart of one honorable police officer in a world where corruption drags even the best officers down.
P.S. I received this copy from the author as a thank you for beta reading an earlier version. I read the final to see what had changed and enjoyed the improvements.
P.P.S. It’s currently available as part of the Death and Damages box set on Amazon, though I believe it will be a standalone book at some point: https://www.amazon.com/Death-Damages-Limited-Mystery-Thriller-ebook/dp/B07GXQQ5PT