When we last saw Luca Bennet, she and Jessica Chase were sharing a rather sweet moment, both rather tongue-tied as they stood at the precipice of moving from their long-standing friends-with-benefits relationship to something more. And then Ronnie Moreno (I spit out her name in disgust) shows up out of the blue, after involving Luca in a rather questionable case and torrid romance two books ago. I liked Ronnie when she was the romantic interest in Slingshot, but after she dumped Luca’s ass and the subsequent developments in Battle Axe, I’m firmly in the Luca/Jess camp and am fervently hoping Luca gets her head out of her ass and makes a good decision for once.
I hate cliffhanger endings when I read them, but love them when I have the next book in the series ready to crack open. I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on the latest book in the Luca Bennett series since I read the last screen of Battle Axe and, now that I have it loaded on my reader, I’m going to settle down while it rains this weekend. I’ll be back shortly to let you know my thoughts.
Switchblade picks up Luca’s life, a life in which the hard-boiled PI hasn’t met a bad decision she didn’t like, right where things left off and drags the reader on another headlong adventure involving investigating corrupt cops and a rather complicated love life. Ronnie’s asshole of a brother (must run in the family), is a recently promoted detective who’s just been accused of corruption and falsifying evidence – of course Ronnie turns to Luca to find the truth and exonerate him. Based on her previous run in with Jorge, Luca isn’t sure that the charges are trumped up, but as she digs in deeper she finds more questions than answers and wondering who she can trust. Wow…sounds like pretty good back of the book blurb.
I’ve always enjoyed Taite’s legal mysteries and her foray out of the courtroom with Luca as a rough and tumble bailbondswoman is a nice addition to her oeuvre of work…and I think I like them even better than the legal ones. As in the previous books, Luca’s approach is more “damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead” than Taite’s lawyer characters, but that gives the books a great sense of suspense – especially when you’re never quite sure what Luca’s going to do next and happily cringe as she charges headlong into the thick of things. She’s definitely not as refined, but being a bad girl with a gun is what makes Luca rather irresistible. And she certainly appears irresistible despite that she drinks too much, gambles excessively, spends a fair amount of time dodging her rent-seeking landlord, and scrounging through dirty laundry for semi-presentable t-shirts. But in the end, she’s a likable character and the first person narration makes it easy to fall in line with everyone else that succumbs to her charm. Luckily, Luca seems to be maturing as the series continues – and she’s giving a lot of her previous decisions second thoughts and trying hard to do the right thing once she figures out what that is.
I’d classify this as a detective style mystery – Luca does a decent job of tracking stuff down and making the connections and I wasn’t left with the feeling that there were too many loose ends or that things get resolved through a deus ex machina intervention. The plot is pretty fast paced and not a lot of extraneous exposition or non-essential elements slowing things down. Taite’s humour shines through, and that softens some of Luca’s harder edges. Only three people end up in the hospital, so the danger and mayhem factor was there but not overly excessive. Just enough to give it some grit.
There is a bit of a triangle – with Ronnie and Jess both pressing her for more, but it isn’t overdone and is balanced with the overall mystery and action. Kudos for not letting Luca get too angst-ridden – but then again, she isn’t a character that wrestles with angst. Even my favourite super secret squirrel federal agent with a stripper name pops up to stir the pot and muddy the waters of the investigation. For those who’ve read her other books, Ryan Foster and Brett Logan from Nothing But The Truth show up for a bit of a cameo and Taite handles it well in that they fit in the story, but don’t steal the spotlight from Luca. Sneaky since now I want to re-read that book to get re-aquainted with those characters. My favourite addition was Cash – who seems to ground Luca and steal all the scenes.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and it was a fun read – mystery, action, humour, and a bit of romance. Who could ask for more? It was a great story to wile away a dreary, rainy day and managed to quell my aggravation over Battle Axe’s cliffhanger. If you’ve read and enjoyed Taite’s legal novels, you’ll like this. If you’ve read and enjoyed the two other books in this series, this one will definitely satisfy your Luca fix and I highly recommend picking it up. And as to whether Luca gets her head of her ass and makes a good decision – all I’ll say is …. read the book.
You can download a sample or purchase Switchblade by clicking here.