Red Adept Publishing
Paperback, ISBN: 1948051850, 280 pages
May 23, 2022
Depths of Deceit is a well-done, laid-back approach to a suspense thriller. In the spirit of Magnum, P.I., this story includes a coastal location, endearing characters, and even some loud Hawaiian shirts. Readers may start this story relaxed in their seats, but they will surely be on the edge as the climax nears.
Jamie Rush, the main protagonist, runs a small private investigator agency in the Texas coastal town of Port Alene with her business partner, Cookie Hinojosa. Business isn’t necessarily booming, but their hearts are bigger than their checkbook, and they take on a pro bono case from Cookie’s childhood friend, Renata. Her fiercely independent baby sister Leah has gone missing. As they begin their investigation, there does not appear to be any foul play involved—until they happen upon Leah’s car and the surprise hidden within. Now the race to find Leah is on in earnest, hopefully before Leah or anyone else becomes a casualty.
Jamie and Cookie complement each other about as well as any two characters can. When Jamie is excitable, Cookie is there with his Hawaiian shirt and easy-going attitude to keep her in check. Similarly, when Cookie becomes irate over the actions of a competitor, Jamie is there to keep him from exploding.
The character of Jamie Rush is easily the most developed. To the author’s credit, most of the character development is done with dialogue and action, with very little being attributed to backstory. For example, Jamie’s personality and values were significantly affected by her parents’ lifestyles and choices. Rather than just setting all of that up in backstory, most of it comes to light during dialogue with other characters, as well as some direct interaction between Jamie and her parents.
To try and keep the reader in Jamie’s mindset, the third-person narrator also employs the same dry wit that is prevalent in Jamie’s character. For example, when Jamie and Cookie enter a room, the narrator described the action: “They looked up to see a young woman sitting at a metal desk. Sparse, pretty industrial—the desk, not the woman.” In another instance, the narrator compared Jamie’s bulldog to some of the men Jamie knew: simple and easy.
Author Laura Oles cleverly adds to the suspense in this story by setting it in a very unusual cold spell along the Gulf Coast. The author’s metaphorical description of the weather’s impact on Port Alene enriches the story. “Port Alene continued to betray visitors with her frigid temperatures and winds so harsh that even the tallest palm trees seemed eager to retreat.” The pacing seemed to be at odds with the weather. Despite their best efforts, nothing seemed to happen very fast for Jamie and Cookie throughout most of the story, yet they were always rushing to try and stay out of the unusually cold weather. As the story nears the climax, however, the pacing surpasses the need to hurry up and stay warm.
The author has a gift for detailed and thorough description that allows readers to visualize the setting and characters: “She was beautiful in a gloriously unconventional way—her skin showed its love of the island sun and wind, and her eyes crinkled at the edges when she smiled. Her dark hair showcased a bright-fuchsia streak winding its way through her ponytail.”
This book is part of a series; however, this story easily stands on its own. All relationships are fully explained, so that the reader is never left wondering where a character came from or how one character came to know another.
Overall, Depths of Deceit is a well-written, suspenseful thriller that keeps the reader fully engaged and connected to the characters, plus it has a dose of levity for a fun and exciting read.
Laura spent two decades as a photo industry journalist covering technology and trends before turning to crime fiction. She has been widely published in numerous photography magazines and served as a columnist for several publications.
Laura’s short stories have appeared in several anthologies. Her debut mystery, DAUGHTERS OF BAD MEN, was an Agatha nominee for Best First Novel and a Claymore Award finalist. It was also chosen as a Killer Nashville Readers’ Choice nominee; she is also a Writers’ League of Texas Award Finalist. She is a member of Austin Mystery Writers, Sisters in Crime and Writers’ League of Texas.
Laura lives in the Texas Hill Country with her family. She loves a good read, a good road trip and any excuse to be outside. She also enjoys connecting with other readers, so if there’s a book or author you’re loving right now, please let her know!