Death’s Way-Christopher Valen

Death’s Way
Christopher Valen
Conquill Press, Mar 1 2014, $15.00
http://www.conquillpress.com
ISBN: 9780980001778

In a downtown hotel room, Ramsey County Medical Examiner Reiko Tanabe explains how the woman died to the St. Paul police. SPD Homicide Detective John Santana summarizes that the deceased killed herself twice during autoerotic sex. With her phone missing, John’s instincts tell him a murder occurred though the evidence points towards Catalina Diaz committing suicide. He finds the business card of anesthesiologist Dr. Philip Campbell inside of Diaz’s purse. Commander Romano arrives to tell Santana and his partner Kacie Hawkins that budgets are tight. The lead detectives assume that their boss has a different political motive for a quick non-homicide resolution.

Reading the leak in the paper, Sarah Malik accompanied by six years old Sammy tells Santana that this murder reminds them of the death of Tania Cruz six years ago; as the child insists she is the reincarnation of that victim. As Santana and Hawkins follow leads including a visit to the pen where Cruz’s convicted killer resides; Romano intrudes especially when Campbell commits a seemingly case closed suicide allegedly out of guilt for murdering the Costa Rican escort.

The latest Santana police procedural (see The Black Minute, Bad Weeds Never Die and Bone Shadows) is a strong investigative thriller that focuses on Costa Rican sex trafficking, murders, and a fascinating maybe reincarnation subplot that claims a wrongful conviction. Filled with plenty of action, readers will relish this superb entry as the justice-seeking Santana conducts an entertaining inquiry.

Harriet Klausner

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