Buchanan launches a new series with this novel, starring Sergeant Craig Burch of the Miami Police Department's Cold Case Squad. Fans of Buchanan's Britt Montero series may recognize Burch as the cop who helped crime reporter Montero solve a cold case in The Ice Maiden (2002).
Although Burch made a superb supporting character, in his first role as the lead, he comes off a bit like a newborn colt on shaky legs. Buchanan has given him the traditional backstory of the homicide cop so haunted by his work that his family life unravels, but he needs considerably more fleshing out if he is going to become a fully formed character. In addition, his first-person narration is wince-producing, a collection of Chandleresque cliches ("Like all things good and bad in the world, it began with a woman") and strained alliterations ("booze, broads, and busted marriages").
Buchanan is on more solid ground with plot and forensic procedure. The ex-wife of a man who was blown to bits while working on his vintage Thunderbird 12 years previously seeks the aid of the Cold Case Squad. The mystery is intensified by the ex-wife's conviction that her deceased husband may still be alive. Despite the missteps, this may yet develop into an intriguing series, and with Buchanan's name on it, it's sure to attract interest.