Friday 30 August 2019

Underbelly (A Taryn Winter Crime Thriller Book 1) - Karen Crawford

A popular Las Vegas hotel and casino is undergoing a billion-dollar renovation, and a killer is operating in the construction zone. The Square is open for guests, but they are unaware that a predator is lurking below the facade of luxury. One woman’s death will draw attention to the murders and spark an investigation.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department retired detective Taryn Winter, her former partner, Daniel Brady and FBI Special Agent Jenae Shannon are on the trail, risking everything to bring a killer to justice. But their opponent has become obsessed with one of them and is on the hunt. Will they find the killer first or be the next victims?

What did I think?

This book does exactly what it says on the cover as Karen Crawford transports the reader to the dark and seedy underbelly of Las Vegas.  Although I've seen it on TV, I've never been to Las Vegas but, through Karen Crawford's descriptive and immersive prose, I actually felt like I was seeing the twinkly lights of the strip and hearing the jangle of coins in the slots whilst reading Underbelly.

Karen Crawford has created a flawed yet empathetic character in the protagonist of Taryn Winter.  Taryn is a very intriguing woman; she has retired from the police force but still works as a consultant so it's almost like she hasn't left at all.  I love the relationship she has with her ex-partner, Daniel and how she really cares about the community, especially the ladies of the night.  I could go on more about the amazing character of Taryn, and I have so many questions regarding her past, so I hope this series continues for a long time to come in order to answer them.  

Where there is prey, there are predators and that is so very true in Las Vegas.  Gamblers, drunks and prostitutes are there for the taking and a killer is using a luxury hotel as their personal kill room.  It should be an easy collar for the Las Vegas MPD with so many CCTV cameras around but this killer seems to be invisible.  The hunt for the killer reaches fever pitch after a wealthy patron's wife becomes one of the victims.  The increased media interest puts the police under more pressure to catch the killer and increased pressure leads to a higher risk of mistakes being made.  This is one very confident and arrogant murderer who always seems to be just out of reach of the long arm of the law.

The feel of the book reminds me of Michael Connelly's Bosch, both in the complexity of the main character and the outstanding quality of writing.  What Bosch does for Los Angeles, Winter does for Las Vegas and I can't wait to continue her story in Atone.  Karen Crawford is a breath of fresh air in the over-saturated crime genre.  I'm a huge fan of crime fiction but I'm finding it a little predictable these days; this fast-paced, gritty and outstanding debut kept me guessing from beginning to beyond the end.  Underbelly is simply extraordinary and I can't rate it highly enough; 5 stars just doesn't do it justice!  A very highly recommended read.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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