Review: "Flamingo Road" by Sasscer Hill


Flamingo Road
by Sasscer Hill
Minotaur Books, 2017


Flamingo Road, Sasscer Hill’s first (of two) featuring former Baltimore PD officer Fia McKee, is a satisfying by-the-numbers detective thriller. Internal Affairs wants Fia’s shield for excessive force after she kills a man strangling a woman, Shyra Darnell, while on patrol. It was a righteous shooting, but when Shyra disappears without saying a word, Fia resigns—rather than fighting the investigation—to take a job with the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau (TRPB) as an undercover agent. Fia is a perfect fit since she worked with her horse-trainer father until his murder five years earlier at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course.
     The TRPB sends Fia to Gulfstream Park, a race course just south of Hollywood in Hallandale Beach, Florida, where there has been a rash of winners with long odds (40-to-1 and higher) and suspiciously high betting patterns on those unlikely winners. A combination that gives Fia’s bosses the uneasy feeling someone is cheating by doping horses with an unknown performance enhancing drug. The assignment is perfect since it gives Fia the chance to spend time with her brother, Patrick, and her teenage niece, Jilly, and to investigate, during her personal time, a series of horse killings in their upscale neighborhood.
     Flamingo Road isn’t perfect. The opening is disjointed—with Fia traveling back-and-forth between Baltimore and Southern Florida—and a reliance on coincidence. But once Flamingo Road settles into itself, at about page 30, its varied positive attributes—a likable and strong heroine is only one—easily overcomes its imperfections. Fia’s narration is tough and smooth and reminded me of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone. The horse racing backdrop is rich and believable and competes handily with the likes of Dick Francis. There is a splash of suspense, a handful of gripping action sequences, an eccentric cast of outlaws, and a blush of romance. In short, Flamingo Road creates a world the reader wants to inhabit for a couple of hours. Now, I need to find that second book and plan my next visit with Fia McKee.

Click here for the Kindle edition at Amazon.


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