A strong second showing for Alice Vega and Max Caplan

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Alice Vega and Max “Cap” Caplan of Two Girls Down return in this timely and topical thriller set near San Diego. In Two Girls Down, bounty hunter Vega recruited retired police officer Caplan to assist her in locating two abducted sisters in Caplan’s town. This time, Vega is flying Caplan out to San Diego where she has been hired as a consultant on a case with two Jane Does. There’s enough evidence to suggest that there are other young girls held by whomever killed these two Janes, but not much else to use to move the case forward. Time is not on their side as Vega and Cap dive into a world of immigration, human trafficking, and drug smuggling. Fortunately for the Janes, Vega has built her reputation on finding missing persons, and neither she nor Cap is willing to give up on these girls, no matter the danger.

This is a sprawling mystery, tucked into the span of a few days. Luna writes her action at a breakneck pace, making the moments of stillness just as important to the reader as they are to her characters. Vega’s career as a bounty hunter gives her the freedom to operate outside the normal police procedural tropes, but she does so with little fanfare or announcement of the laws or normal rules of engagement she violates. Cap occasionally acts as the voice of legal reason, but trusts Vega’s methods and complements her well. Fans of Two Girls Down should be aware that while the prior novel had a number of dark plot points, the crimes in this book and the general atmosphere are heavier. The metered revelation of information to the reader is one of Luna’s strong suits, carefully peeling back layers as they are revealed to Vega and Cap, allowing plot twists and surprises even though we know this is a human trafficking story from the outset.

I recommend this as a solid pick for mystery and procedural thriller fans, and a book that is worth a chance for someone who normally sticks to novels based on political intrigue with a side of action. While it is the second book in the series, I believe that it could be read as a stand-alone novel.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via BookishFirst for an honest review.