In the third Samantha Kinkaid mystery by Alafair Burke, Close Case, Samantha gets involved with a case that not only threatens her relationship, but also her life. Just getting comfortable with her new live-in situation with cop Chuck Forbes, Samantha catches a series of cases that eventually end up being connected. The first is the murder of Percy Crenshaw, a black reporter who was seemingly killed for his Mercedes. The second is a cop shooting of an unarmed black woman. After Chuck’s partner strong-arms a suspect for a confession in the Crenshaw case, Samantha voices her discomfort and the wrath of the police department suddenly descends on her. This causes tension in her and Chuck’s relationship as he tries to defend his partner to his girlfriend.
Samantha’s investigation brings her in contact with a novice reporter, a pair of dirty cops and a host of others in the law enforcement community. Will she be able to solve the crimes before her life—and her relationship with Chuck—are in danger?
While the mystery is engaging in Close Case, it never becomes entertaining enough to qualify as a “page-turner.” There’s too much dialogue and not enough action, and it often gets bogged down. In addition, the characters never quite form vivid personalities, and it’s difficult to really feel for them. Samantha is a decent enough heroine, but she never really shines in this installment.
While Close Case is by no means a bad book, there are certainly better mystery novels out there. Hopefully, Burke will be able to improve on her next Samantha Kinkaid book.