About the Book
Author: A.M. McKnight
Title: County Vices (Goslyn County #2)
Publication Date: August 27, 2017
Length: 289 pages
Categories: Fiction, crime/suspense, lesbian
Detective Olivia Winston and IRS Special Agent Maureen Jeffries have “tied the knot” and happily settled into married life. But crime in their home county of Goslyn hasn’t settled down—in fact, it’s at an all-time high. Drugs and corruption have found a foothole in the once small, quiet community, and Olivia and Maureen discover it’s a family affair that reaches from the street corner dealer right up to the County Board of Supervisors.
The love-hate drama between Supervisor Cleo Jacobs and her street-wise nephew, Chris Jacobs, has filled their pockets with plenty of cash but caused a dangerous rift between the two as both try to make their mark in the drug game. Driven by greed and ego, the Jacobs do their best to satisfy the growing demand for pills that “make you happy” and “numb the pain.” But their love of money comes with a callous disregard for others, including those close to Detective Winston and Special Agent Jeffries, who find themselves right in the middle of Goslyn’s biggest crime story.
Love, violence, and betrayal combine to make the perfect, poisonous pill.
Having read the first book, I was thrilled to see a follow-up. Although there are some advantages to reading the them in order, this one works fine as a standalone. There aren’t really any spoilers in it other than that the two characters who developed a relationship in book one are still together.
This is a crime novel, not a mystery, so all the players and their roles are known right from the start. While Olivia and her network of willing assistants do crack the case, even that is not the sole focus of the story. And that is what sets it apart from other suspense.
One of the key ingredients that I loved in the first book, and which has carried over into the second, is the high degree of empathy. The “big bads” are always the rich and powerful, people taking advantage of the system and using the less privileged to get to the top. There’s some great commentary in this story about power dynamics and the apathy of those in control. At the same time, readers are not only invited but encouraged to see the humanity of those who become mixed up in crime as survival. I found myself grieving for the young man who is central to the plot, both for his mistakes and his misfortunes.
There really isn’t a romance this time around. Olivia and Maureen are a solid couple, and they are wonderful together. I love that their relationship is their soft landing place when their jobs get tough. It’s important to the plot in the sense that they rely on each other in big and small ways. However, it isn’t the key focus of the story. They have many friends and family in their community who love and support them, which is always good to see.
Speaking of which, there are a lot of characters in this story. For me, that worked well and I loved it. In particular, I liked that they all have lives and stories to tell. Everyone, from the nursing students to the office workers to the politicians, have a human backstory. This is important in that it’s what provides the ingredients to develop reader empathy. It gave me a sense of almost split-screen with the criminals, wishing they’d do right but understanding why they don’t. It’s very well done.
This is the heart of the series, personified in Detective Olivia. Ultimately, her desire isn’t only for justice but for real and lasting change and to make a difference in people’s lives. Like most empathetic people, she isn’t able to see her own influence, and she struggles a bit with it. I hope that we haven’t seen the last of her and the way she wrestles with these big questions.
For well-drawn characters, an absorbing plot, and a lot of heart, this gets 10/10 fountain pens.
About the Author
A.M. McKnight is a long-time Virginian and practices law as a first profession. She decided to try her hand at writing after getting hooked on lesbian crime and romance novels. As a lover of fast crime action and black lesbian romance, A.M. McKnight combined the two and wrote her first book, Goslyn County—self published. Her other works now include a short story romance, flash fiction, and a second self-published novel—County Vices—with more to come. She also occasionally tries her hand at poetry.