Hera Books. Oct. 2019. Mystery. Thriller. Women’s Fiction. Reviewed Sept 22, 2019.
In a debut both chilling and cheeky, Charly Cox introduces the protagonist mystery lovers have been dying to meet.
Detective Alyssa Wyatt isn’t your typical cop. The mother of two “stands just five-foot-three but carries herself with a six-foot-four attitude.” Her mom glare can set a grown man straight. And she worries about her interfering mother-in-law.
Together with her partner Cord Roberts*, Wyatt hunts down the bad guys, the really bad ones, and brings them to justice.
When a woman’s badly beaten body is discovered buried in the mountains just outside of Albuquerque, Wyatt is on the case, but something about this perpetrator makes her uncomfortable.
He’s disarmingly familiar. She’s haunted by a mysterious past. Could the two be connected?
We won’t lapse into spoilers here, but we can share that as the bodies pile up and the deranged killer closes in, in this fast-paced game of cat and mouse, it’s not always clear who’s doing the hunting and who’s being hunted.
Cox will keep you guessing until the very end, but one thing is certain: If Wyatt doesn’t crack the case in time to save the next victim… it might just be her.
Can a suspense novel about a detective and the serial killer who’s stalking her really make a fun read?
Absolutely. In a refreshing twist, caffeine-addicted, compulsive cleaner, mom-wife-detective Alyssa Wyatt is down-to-earth, and Cox assimilates – rather than suppresses – the heroine’s feminine tendencies.
Ponytails get tied and untied. Mom guilt creeps in (what mother doesn’t get swallowed up in it sometimes?). And husband Brock’s “solid chest” is the place where Wyatt rests her weary, crime-solving head. Yet with a gun in her hip holster and a black coffee in hand, this wife and mother remains at the top of her game.
At the same time, not even Wyatt’s obsession with capturing the killer is an excuse for letting the dust settle at home. Because at the Wyatt residence, even a busy criminal investigator takes time out to vacuum, and even a murderer in hiding can appreciate that it’s dust-free under the bed.
It’s juxtapositions like these that make Cox’s writing so cheeky and wry. Her willingness to lighten the tension with stereotypical mom moments works. And with narrative threads that invoke hardboiled crime fiction, and character names taken straight out of a western (Tex Rivers!), the story is riveting and fun.
Does it stretch the imagination? Of course it does, precisely as demanded by the genre and readers’ enjoyment of it.
Though we’re not generally thriller readers at VP, Charly Cox has us hooked. Our advice: Pick up All His Pretty Girls for the suspense. Bolt your doors in advance (you can thank us later). Then settle in and get to know Detective Alyssa Wyatt, a woman and mother who, like so many of us, is parenting her teenagers, scrambling to get dinner on the table, and killing it at her day job.
*Is it just us, or is anyone else wondering: Is Cord modeled on the fictional heartthrob Cordero Roberts from the nineties soap opera “One Life to Live?”
Disclosure: Voices Press was provided an advance copy of this title
in exchange for a fair an honest review.