Deputy Dani Savage would like nothing better than to shoot the wife beaters, carjackers, drug dealers, and all the rest of the low-life good ol’ boys that make policing Baptist Flats, Tennessee, near impossible. Instead, she grits her teeth and serves the God-fearing townsfolk without complaint. The “little deputy,” as she’s known, is often overlooked and ridiculed for being a small-statured woman in a big man’s world. But while investigating a cold case involving a missing teen, Dani stumbles onto some disturbing facts that cannot be ignored.
Soon Dani realizes that this case goes back decades. There’s a history of young women being stolen from the Tennessee hills, and a legacy of corrupt cops looking the other way. Dani’s investigation leads her to the “closeout kings,” a pair of hired killers with a tale to tell—a tale of a missing girl and a crime worse than murder. Somehow these two deranged hit men are Dani’s last, best allies. They know that it’s time for payback—and in the backwoods, justice takes only one form.
What I liked: The setting, the characters, the sad plot but most of all the writing. Mr. Caldwell is an artist with words. The pictures he paints make you feel as if you’re right there as he’s writing it. I had never read anything by him before and as I mentioned, the reader will need to be in the mood for Savage Reckoning.
The heroine is Dani Savage. She’s led somewhat of a colorful life but really loves being a deputy sheriff in her hometown of Baptist Flats, Tennessee. Her backstory is poignant but could be any young girl’s life. Now she is a little bit of thing and that earns her the nickname, Little Deputy. She hates it but it’s a fact of her life. Small in stature doesn’t mean small in brains and drive. She’s a firecracker all right.
The plot is about many and I mean many missing young girls in the area surrounding Baptist Flats. Dani notices a sad woman at a political event she’s working at and strikes up a conversation only to learn the lady is trying to find her missing daughter and no one, including the law enforcement where she lives has an open case on the girl. It sparks Dani’s interest which she takes to her uncle, the sheriff. Their investigation begins and soon connects to another case, a double murder that recently happened in Baptist Flats. Dani started the case but it was soon turned over to the State police as their town doesn't have the resources to investigate a double homicide. After learning of ALL the young girls missing that case goes on the back burner as she and her uncle try to figure out what in the heck is going on with all the missing girls and no cases opened by each local law enforcement agencies.
The other view point in this story is told by the “closeout” team of Step Crawford and Kenny Fable. They work for Boss/Pike family and collect monies owed or based on orders from Boss, get rid of the individuals he tells them to. This is pretty complicated and I’m making it sound easy. Step and Kenny are in the process of convincing a man, who owes Boss some money, to pay up when he tells them to inform Boss he’s willing to trade his daughter for the debt. This sets off the closeout duo into rethinking everything they’ve done for Boss in the past. The problem is, Boss and his family are extremely well connected in the local and surrounding states and never seem to be brought up on any kind of charges.
Missing young girls and corrupt local law enforcement do not mix well with murders for hire and the seemingly honest law enforcement in Baptist Flats. As with most small towns and their surrounding area, many are related in some way and this plays a part in the story. The characters are hauntingly real to me. The way Mr. Caldwell writes them is ingenious. I found myself pulling for individuals I would normally have no business even thinking about. Even with such an ugly plot and despicable characters, Mr. Caldwell finds a way to insert a bit of humor. Kenny, while a killer, is a bit inept but I found myself chuckling a bit at some of his scenes in the book.
What I didn’t like: I think this was part of my problem when I kept trying to read Savage Reckoning, it starts a bit slow and is a bit jumbled. Some readers might not like the dual points of view but to me to added to the intrigue.
Once you get past the first couple of chapters, the book takes off. The closer I got to the ending, I just didn’t want to stop. There are a few twists that really took me by surprise.
The e-book price is a steal at $2.99. You get a lot of book for the current price.
I was provided an ARC by NetGalley for a fair and honest review.