“In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield.” – Douglas MacArthur

The battlefield. Blood and fear, hatred and death. But it isn’t only the battlefield where these things lie. Even here, in the arms of the supposed “Land of the Free, Home of the Brave” the roar of the battlefield shrieks aloud – carrying blood and fear, hatred and death to the innocent, the child, the weak wishing only for food, shelter, a new life.

As a Forensic Specialist, Smokey Brandon knows all about the horrors visited on those who can’t protect themselves. The children, the immigrants, the women and men who are lost and hidden. And California’s newest serial killer is the latest to prey upon the hidden and the vulnerable. Of course, in Orange County the whole Ideal is ‘cover it up, because it couldn’t ever happen in our perfect little rich-man’s world”. But the horrific mutilation of the first victim sets all Smokey’s warning signals flaring. And as the bodies of Hispanics pile up, it is a race to find the perpetrator.

Ayres is brutally realistic in her portrayals of the crimes, the characters, and the attitudes that make up the undercurrents of a deeper story – the immigration, sometimes illegal, of Hispanics across the borders from Mexico to the US. You are dropped right in on the first scene from the beginning, no build-up, no easing in. Just a mutilated young girl, left to rot in a filthy bedroom, in a filthy house.

This was my first Smokey Brandon. Her third book, after “Carcass Trade” and “A World the Color of Salt”. I fully intend to go back and read the first two in order to “catch up” as it were. Smokey is a very well rounded character, even jumping in in what could be called ‘the middle of the tale’ and I enjoyed not only her, but the other characters as well. The forensics and police procedure is believable as is the character of OC. If you are interested in a good forensic/police procedure with solid characters and storyline, this is a series to put on your reading list.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

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