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Dead Woman Walking    by Sharon Bolton Amazon.com order for
Dead Woman Walking
by Sharon Bolton
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2017 (2017)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Sharon Bolton is one of the (IMHO) top mystery authors, both for her crime thrillers starring D.C. Lacey Flint, and excellent standalones like Daisy in Chains. This latest, Dead Woman Walking, is my all time favorite, to date.

It all starts with the birthday gift of a hot-air balloon ride in the north of England, near the Scottish border. Police detective Jessica Lane takes her sister Isabel, a nun dressed in black, on this excursion, which does not go at all as planned.

First, they witness a brutal attack on a fleeing girl from above. The attacker sees them as well. He shoots the balloon pilot, and follows its flight from the ground. It soon ends in a disastrous crash - and a slaughter.

We see the sister in green flee the scene (villains in hot pursuit) and wonder why she won't contact the police. As this develops (with escalating tension and narrow escapes), the author takes us back in time to understand the relationship between the sisters, and guess at what terrible event in their shared past caused Bella to seek escape in a Carmelite nunnery, a silent order.

Readers also share the police investigation that starts at the crash site and eventually closes in on the nunnery - and the way the good sisters deal with this intrusion injects a very welcome dose of humor into this tense drama. Police wonder why one of their own has not contacted them, while readers wonder if the lead crash investigator is corrupt.

Dead Woman Walking is a brilliant thriller centered on organ trafficking, with switchback plot twists, a puzzling backstory for the leads, and a redemptive and very satisfying conclusion. One of the very best this year!

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