When Sherlock Holmes, Lord Peter Wimsey, Harry Bosch, or James Bond get older (or at least the actors playing them do), they just brush back a few (distinguished, of course) gray hairs and carry on carrying on with younger (beautiful, of course) women. But what happens when female detectives get older? Is there a stop between Nancy Drew and old Miss Marple with her knitting?
Fans of Kassandra Lamb’s Kate Huntington series know the answer to this and will, I’m sure, join me in celebrating her latest release. As Kate and her family continue to grow, I thought it would be fun to revisit a post from a few years back. Stay tuned at the end for my review of her new release, Police Protection.
What happens when Nancy Drew grows up?
In most long-running mystery/thriller series, the protagonist stays pretty much the same from book to book. Watson never checks Sherlock into the Old Sleuths Home. Bunter never ends up pushing a drooling Lord Peter Wimsey around in his wheelchair. The Scooby Gang never get their AARP cards and reminisce about that time they had to have Scooby Doo put down.
But what if their stories did mark the passage of time? I tried to imagine what would happen when ace girl detective Nancy Drew grows up.
NANCY DREW: Woman detective of a certain age
Nancy becomes a lawyer like her dad, whose first name is apparently Mister. Her chum Bess—following a long career on a popular soap opera—is a celebrity spokesperson for a weight loss chain, while other bestie George came out at last, and is now team-teaching computer engineering with her wife out at Berkeley. Nancy and Ned get married, and have two sons, Nan JR and Mister. Ned (who never graduated from Emerson College because he had to leave every episode to rescue Nancy from being bound and gagged) stays home to raise the boys while Nancy continues to stumble across mysteries every time she backs her (Lexus) roadster out of the driveway. The houses on either side are vacant and other neighbors avoid her, because anyone who has a conversation with Nancy Drew-Nickerson is found dead about fifteen pages later.
But lately, Nancy has been having a few problems. During the de rigueur bound-and-gagged scene in each book, she starts to wonder why Ned can’t be more… exciting…in the bedroom. When she unmasks Bess’ latest boyfriend as the villain’s accomplice, a hot flash has her opening the window (through which he immediately escapes). Every time she goes to make a list of clues, she forgets why she went into her study and ends up catching up with her chums on Facebook or playing Candy Crush on her phone. While investigating, she has trouble remembering some words and has taken to using “thingie” instead. When she finally catches the villains in the act, she starts to cry. Then, a minute later when one of them makes a crack about her new mustache, she thinks, “Screw this.” And shoots them. Lots. With her thingie.
So maybe Nancy Drew doesn’t make the transition into a grown woman. But in Police Protection, not only does Kate confront issues straight from current news, but she does it while struggling with the inevitable march of time, aging, and parenthood.
A story ripped from real-life headlines!
Groggy from a concussion, a police detective is found in an alley, standing over the body of an unarmed African-American boy. He is literally holding the smoking gun and has no memory of what happened.
To the Baltimore County Police Department, it’s a slam-dunk. But various forces push psychotherapist Kate Huntington and her P.I. husband to investigate behind the scenes, and what they find doesn’t add up. Why did the boy’s oldest brother disappear on the same day? And did the brother in between them, who’s on the autism spectrum and nonverbal, witness the shooting?
For Kate, the case becomes personal as she connects with the grieving mother, whose dead son was the same age as her Billy. When seemingly unrelated events create obstacles in their path, a pattern emerges; someone is trying to discourage their investigation. Whatever happened in that alley, it’s more than just a bad shoot by a stressed-out cop.
The answers may come from unexpected sources, but Kate and Skip better find them soon… before another life is lost.(All books in this series are designed to be read and enjoyed as stand-alones as well.)
- Book Title: POLICE PROTECTION: A Kate Huntington Mystery (The Kate Huntington Mysteries Book 10)
- Author: Kassandra Lamb
- Genre: Cozy Mystery
Length: 307 pages
Publisher: Misterio Press LLC (May 24, 2019)
My Review: 5 out of 5 stars for Police Protection by Kassandra Lamb
Kate Huntington-Canfield has a problem. What happens when you get the life you always wanted? Oh sure, Kate seems to have it all. She’s transitioning from her successful psychotherapist practice to a rewarding teaching career. After the murder of her beloved husband leaves Kate a young widow expecting a child, she’s now deeply in love with her handsome second husband and their two beautiful children. So—other than the people who keep trying to kill her, but she’s used to that—what could possibly be wrong?
First, there’s a gnawing suspicion that ‘having it all’ isn’t turning out to be all that great. Of course, Kate isn’t sure how much is down to pre-menopausal symptoms. Sherlock Holmes never had to deal with hot flashes, and Hercule Poirot’s ‘little gray cells’ didn’t take a hormonal vacation.
Her brain felt fuzzy. It felt like the puzzle pieces were on the verge of coming together, if only she could think straight.
Okay, that is hormonal. She was more than ready to be done with these damn perimenopause symptoms that made it hard to sleep, hard to think, hard to figure out how the hell she really felt about things!
And, most importantly, none of the great male detectives had to fit their detecting schedule around an eleven-year-old son with ADHD issues or a thirteen-year-old daughter whose own hormones were telling her to fight everything her mother said.
Despite her concerns about her own life choices, Kate is unable to resist the request for help that comes from two unlikely sources. First is the police detective who had made Kate’s life miserable in the past, but who has now been found with a head injury, standing over a wounded child. Second is the mother of the dying child supposedly shot by that same officer—a special child also known to Kate.
Using her own background as a psychotherapist and educator, Author Kassandra Lamb asks the reader to look beyond the sadly familiar image of the police officer and the unarmed young victim, and to confront our own preconceived stereotypes of race, status, and ability.
In heartbreaking mirror to her own life, Kate meets the grieving family—the widowed mother, angry teenage daughter, and autistic son. Overshadowing their grief is the fear for another missing son, the college student brother of the child who’d been shot.
Kate’s work on a commission studying PTSD in police officers tells her the accused officer is dealing with unresolved trauma in addition to the concussion-related amnesia. Her own background combined with her professional experience uncovers a disturbing puzzle whose pieces resist a proper fit. And her experience as mother to a child on the spectrum allows her to wonder if the artistically-gifted autistic child’s nonverbal communication holds the missing clues. But uncovering those pieces puts not only the family Kate is trying to help, but also her own tight-knit group of family and friends into danger.
One of the trademarks of the series is the slow careful increase of tension, building to a terrifying and emotional scene. For this to be effective, the reader has to care about those in danger. And that’s where author Kassandra Lamb truly excels. Although she bucks the cozy mystery tropes at almost every turn (no cupcakes, knitting, or cats!), she nails the other staple of the genre—the posse of multi-skilled and well-connected supporting characters. With each book in the series, their roles are allowed to grow, change, and develop three-dimensional richness over time.
For me, it’s that shared history, the sense that these characters are people I’ve gotten to know, that takes Police Protection from a solid cozy mystery into a five-star read. So even though the blurb promises a stand alone story, I’d recommend that you give yourself the treat of getting to know Kate, her family and friends, and a wonderful story that grows better with the years.