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Through the Cracks: A Mystery by Barbara Fister

Fans of the whodunit will find much to like in Barbara Fister’s second volume in the Anni Koshkinen series, Through the Cracks. The author of In the Wind brings back her tough-minded gal PI to fight crime in the Windy City.

Anni left the police force after she became unpopular for testifying against a fellow man in blue. It became apparent they no longer had her back, so Anni resigned and started her own private investigation business. She has some lean times and can’t refuse a job if she wants to keep a roof over her head.

However, when Anni takes on a new client, she finds herself working on an impossible case. After spending 20 years in prison, a black man convicted in a notorious rape case has had his sentence overturned. The victim wants to know who was really responsible for the crime that scarred her life and hires Anni. But even if Anni can find out who committed the brutal crime decades ago, a conviction will be impossible–unless the rapist has struck again. The statute of limitations is not always a good thing!

The resourceful victim has uncovered evidence that a serial rapist may still be at work, attacking women with ferocious anger. As Anni digs deeper, the politically ambitious State’s Attorney who prosecuted the original rape case insists that the conviction was solid. He believes there was no miscarriage of justice–other than that a violent felon has been released on a technicality.

As Annie’s cold case heats up, her friend Dugan, a CPD detective, is involved in a heater case of his own. An undocumented Mexican gang member has been arrested for the murder of a missing woman whose uncertain fate has gripped the city and fueled anti-immigrant sentiment.

As both investigations unfold, the impact of racial prejudice radiates cracks through the criminal justice system. And it is through those cracks that Anni must try to glimpse the truth.

Anni is a take-no-prisoners type of PI with a soft spot for others that she can’t always keep hidden. She will always fight for the underdog, unless she finds out he’s dirty and then all bets are off. She’ll risk her soul and her economic stability to help another and to learn the truth behind the seemingly obvious facts. What she won’t do: give up.

It seems fairly obvious that this series is around to stay and is a welcome addition to the mystery genre.

Publisher’s Weekly wrote, “Koskinen connects with an array of well-drawn supporting characters…Thoughtful attention to the complexities of police work and social justice lift this gritty mystery well above the norm. Koskinen’s empathy with both cops and victims as well as her fierce, brittle independence make her easy to root for.”

Library Journal said, “…packs a real punch. It will appeal to Sara Paretsky fans and mystery readers who long for touch and savvy female investigators.”

Anni is tough without being abrasive. Try her out.

~Ginny

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