In Miami, the fate of Kathleen Riley's Cold Case Squad is perpetually on the
line, but never more so than when the budget gets crunched, yet they perform a
critical service, picking up the cases that are all but forgotten and unsolved.
Currently the squad is dealing with two murder/homicides, an accidental
conflagration of a father of three and a series of serial killings targeting
elderly women, all apparently unrelated.
As Sergeant Craig Burch and Detectives Stone and Nazario sort through the disparate clues, they unravel some interesting coincidences. These particular crimes are all but impossible to solve, but the victims haven't forgotten their loved ones, even if the files have gone cold. With the murders and the burning death of a man twelve years ago on their radar, the detectives uncover unlikely bits of forensic evidence and discover more than they bargained for, loose ends that lead to a surprising arrest in what is almost the perfect crime.
Miami is a hotbed of entrepreneurial crime du jour, general mayhem against the residents of a major city bedeviled by crime, corruption and the mentality of a banana republic. Perps are actively assaulting the system with home invasion robberies, petty theft and any number of creative, if illegal, diversions. Yet most of the city funds have been diverted to Homeland Security, leaving police agencies with critical shortages with no end in sight.
Sergeant Burch is embarrassed by the marital discord that has followed him onto the job, juggling his professional and private lives while pursuing a case that jumps from Miami to the East Coast. Meanwhile, Detective Stone throws all his energy into the recent murder of an elderly woman, worrying that a serial killer will strike again in Miami; he must balance discretion and the press, alerting the public without tipping his hand to the killer. Behind the scenes, Riley, fights for her squad against threatened budget cuts.
Miami has a million personal stories, each layer of society alive with criminals and good guys, the habitual raptors preying upon the innocent. The details make a crime novel believable, as well as a realistic portrayal of the detectives, their job talk and personal relationships. And there are some interesting details unveiled during the investigative process, especially the forensic techniques used to identify crime scene victims.
Each of the cops in Cold Case Squad holds his own, professional and quick to act in an emergency, making a great team under pressure. A crime novel is wedded to a formula by its nature, but this one is above average, a testimony to Buchananís talent, well-researched and thoughtfully plotted.