Sunday, March 24, 2024

Explosive second book of the Red Queen Trilogy


The Red Queen Trilogy, No. 2
Juan Gomez-Jurado
Minotaur Books
March 12, 2024

Antonia Scott and her protector, policeman Jon Gutierrez, are two of the most interesting characters I have encountered in crime fiction for a long time. Antonia is a brilliant but conflicted member of the Red Queen, an international crime-fighting organization. Antonia has a clever brain that sees and makes connections at lightning-fast speed but has relentless personal demons. Her husband has been on life support for years after a failed assassination attempt on Antonia went horribly awry. Her family has taken her only child away because of her erratic behavior. On the other hand, her partner, Jon Gutierrez, is gay, nattily dressed, overweight, and neurotic. He is also Antonia's steadfast supporter and friend. Their first case together, Red Queen, was a non-stop thriller with an ending that left many questions unanswered.

Antonia and Jon are sent to Marbella, a resort city on the Costa del Sol after a Russian gangster is brutally murdered in his home. His pregnant wife, Lola Moreno, is missing and assumed to be on the run. Red Queen needs to find and extract Lola for her safety and the information she may have. The Russian gangster who killed her husband is also looking for her. If that was not enough, the head mafioso in Russia has sent his assassin to find Lola. The assassin is a female known as the "Black Wolf," with a high success rate and a seemingly endless appetite for brutality. Antonia, Jon, and corrupt Marbella cops are bound to collide with explosive results. Antonia's personal demons raise their heads, and she overuses the drugs prescribed to keep her going. Nobody is who they appear to be in this propulsive thriller.

I was blown away by Red Queen and eagerly awaited the second installment. I was not precisely disappointed by Black Wolf, even though it wasn't quite as engrossing. That is often the nature of a middle book in a trilogy. Once again, the characters are extraordinary and surprising, and the action never stops. Antonia is releasing some of her failures and regrets, which bodes well for the finish. I hope it comes soon after a jaw-dropping twist at the novel's close! Thanks to NetGalley and Minotaur for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.

RATING- 4 Stars

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