So far, 2023 has been a good year for thrillers, and Red Queen is outstanding. Originally published in Spain in 2018, it has gained a worldwide following and is now available in English. Juan Gomez-Jurado has introduced a detecting duo and a cast of characters as fascinating as any I have ever read. Inspector Jon Gutierrez of the Madrid Police is in hot water, not for the first time. He is a clothes-horse, despite being barrel-chested and overweight. Gutierrez also still lives with his mother and is gay, neither of which makes him popular on the force. This time he may have finally ruined his career by planting evidence on a pimp and drug dealer. Gutierrez did it to help one of the pimp's girls get loose from his influence. The girl, however, filmed it and put it on social media. Suspended without pay and with Internal Affairs on his heels, he has no idea what to do. Then he receives a phone call from someone only known as the "Mentor," who offers him an opportunity to resurrect his career.
The "Mentor" is part of a shadowy organization that pursues the worst of criminals, serial killers, killers-for-hire, and terrorists. "Mentor" wants him to meet with a former operative, half-English, half-Spanish Antonia Scott. She is a genius forensic expert with a mind like a high-functioning computer. They need her to solve several high-profile kidnappings of influential and wealthy people and the death of one of the children of the families involved. Antonia, however, has refused since her husband was shot and has been in a coma for three years. Her father has taken her young son away and assumed custody of him. She only leaves her apartment to go and sit with her husband in the hospital every night. Her life has collapsed, and she blames herself. The killer was after her, not her husband. Gutierrez has a tall order to get her out of her apartment, but the situation escalates when Carla Ortiz, the daughter of one of the world's wealthiest men, is kidnapped. There is no ransom demand, at least financially, but the families involved are not forthcoming about the orders made. Carla has only 40 hours left to live.
There is non-stop action in Red Queen, kidnappings, car chases, subterranean pursuits, bombings, and encounters with some of the worst people one could imagine. If you aren't afraid of shadowy international organizations who think they have the right to decide the fate of everyone, you will be after reading this novel. Through skillful character-building, Juan Gomez-Jurado has written a story of love, friendship, and healing. I can't wait for the next book in this trilogy.
I received the audiobook of Red Queen from McMillan Audio and NetGalley. It was superbly narrated by Scott Brick, who I was aware of, but this is the first time I heard him. I will be on the lookout for his work in the future. The opinions are my own.
RATING- 5 Stars