New crime thriller offers a dead senator, dirty election politics, and pending environmental disaster

Let Justice Descend, by Lisa Black. Kensington Books. 320 pages. Hardcover $26.00.

Cape Coral resident Lisa Black’s fifth Gardiner and Renner novel only leaves one waiting for the next one. You can’t have too much of a good thing. Do you like mystery plots to start off with a bang? Well, here goes. It’s election time in Ohio and U. S. Senator Diane Cragin has been busy campaigning for re-election, doing whatever else she can to influence the power brokers and the voters. With three days to go, she is about to enter her home when she steps on a device designed to electrocute her. And it works perfectly.

Senator Cragin has plenty of enemies, but could it be that the person running against her would have the most incentive to get her out of the way? Now her party has to choose a substitute candidate immediately. Hmm, a self-created opening for a prepared opportunist? 

Cragin’s chief of staff, the estimable Kelly Henessey, shows the proper degree of sadness at the loss of her mentor, but she seems even more worried about possibly being out of a job. Henessey is a great minor character, with all kinds of psychological quirks.

The investigating team includes not only Maggie Gardiner as crime scene investigator (CSI), but also someone from the medical examiner’s office and two police force detectives. The latter are partners Tom Riley and Jack Renner – whose penchant for vigilante justice is like a chain around Maggie’s neck. She knows about his propensities, and her own career is likely to blow up if anyone finds out what she is hiding from the department. Otherwise, Jack is a darn good detective.

Another motive for knocking off the senator is what’s discovered in her safe: a huge fortune in cash. Was Cragin planning a lavish retirement? How did she accumulate this money? Who knew about it?

Readers soon learn that the senator may have been instrumental, and was no doubt at least an influential force, in a highly competitive game underway in the city: repurposing out of use properties in downtown areas. Author Black gives us a close-up view of the wars that go on among speculative investors, government regulators, and political grifters. Exploring these forces at work leads Black to populate her scenes with well -drawn secondary characters.

These include Joe Green – a powerful, seasoned administrator and politician about to become the Democratic candidate running for the senate position and David Carlyle – a young, dedicated EPA inspector in charge of overseeing plans for a water intake facility (crib) on Lake Erie. In addition, there is investigative reporter Lori Russo, who is not only on top of the political shenanigans in Cleveland, but has also been sniffing for any information about the vigilante murders (Jack Renner’s crimes). She knows that police officer Rick Gardiner, Maggie’s ex, is working on that case. . . .

To read the full review, as well as an interview with the author (photo at left), click on Florida Weekly – Let Justice Descend  The review appears in the October 30, 2019 Fort Myers Florida Weekly; the October 31 Bonita Springs, Palm Beach, and Venice editions; and the November 7 Naples and Charlotte County editions. The interview is on the following page in the Fort Myers edition, after the review.

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