Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Breaking Point, by Dana Haynes (hardcover, $24.99)

Dana Haynes' first book, Crashers -- the nickname used for the National Transportation Safety Board's team of investigators of airplane crashes -- brought a quirky but brilliant group of individuals together for an investigation in Portland. We met pathologist Tommy Tomzak, sharp-eared Kiki Duvall, and pilot Isaiah Grey, the core of that crash team. This time around, they are passengers in the plane that crashes in a forest in Montana. Turnabout is not fair play.

Haynes informs us that it is not unusual for real-life crash teams to have different configurations each time. Members are drawn from experts all over the country, depending on who is closest and available, and Haynes' fictional team is no exception. New faces with new talents pop up to help. However, Peter Kim, the pain-in-the-heinie from Crashers, is the Investigator in Charge this time. Gulp.

Further hindering the dream team is the fact that tiny-but-tough Susan Tanaka is on a rare vacation, so she isn't in charge of enabling the investigation either on-site or in D.C. By-the-book Peter as the IIC is missing the elusive creative factor needed to solve the mystery of the crash. It's a good thing the NTSB survivors -- ostracized by Kim -- form an unauthorized shadow team.

FBI agent Ray Calabrese and mysterious ex-Israeli agent Daria Gibron are also back and join our heroes. 

A silver-haired mercenary, nicknamed Calendar, caused the crash. One can only think that his benign-sounding name represents the clock ticking and time running out. Will the forest fire started by the plane crash destroy all the evidence? Why was Calendar hired to destroy the plane? Will the primary go-team stumble on the truth? Will the shadow go-team find Calendar before he kills them? Are Calendar's days numbered?

The combination of main team, shadow team, double-crossers, and double-double-crossers puts a lot of players up front, but Haynes does an outstanding job sorting them out.

This is a page-turner that will put a blister on your finger.

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