Reviews of the Lou Boldt Series

The Body of David Hayes

“Pearson in The Body of David Hayes has once again worked his unique magic, creating a plausible high-tech tale that never gets bogged down in the minutiae of computer jargon while playing his characters’ emotions off of each other.”

Book Reporter

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THE BODY OF DAVID HAYES is the ninth of Ridley Pearson’s novels  featuring Seattle Police Detectives Lou Boldt and Daphne Matthews. Pearson has infused these books with a number of interesting elements and has reached the point where he can pick and choose among them so that each new offering in the series is familiar yet never predictable. The series is set in Seattle, one of the more fascinating cities in the United States, so that Pearson can build his story around a point of interest (as he did so brilliantly in THE ART OF DECEPTION, for example). He can feature either Boldt or Matthews as the focal point of the story, or alternate between the two. Given the longevity of the series, Pearson can also reach into the past and use it as a propellant for a story set in the present.

THE BODY OF DAVID HAYES is primarily a Boldt book. Actually, that’s not quite accurate, as a great deal of the novel concerns Boldt’s wife Liz. Lou and Liz hit a rough patch several years previous to the events in THE BODY OF DAVID HAYES. It was during this period that Lou had a brief fling with Daphne Matthews and Liz had an affair with David Hayes, a brilliant computer specialist at Seattle’s WestCorp Bank, where Liz is an executive. Lou and Liz were each aware of the other’s infidelity; neither of them knew the identity of the other’s partner. After Liz ended her affair with Hayes, he embarked on a scheme at the behest of the Russian Mafia wherein he used his computer skills to steal 17 million dollars from WestCorp. The money was never recovered.

Hayes is now out on parole and is seeking to recover the money, and with good reason: he has been put on notice by the Russian mob that his life is in danger if he cannot retrieve it. His intrusion back into Liz’s life is sudden and dramatic. Hayes cannot recover the money without access to the inner computer workings of the bank, and Liz is his only way in. What is worse from Liz’s standpoint is that her affair with Hayes will be revealed if she does not assist him. Liz, torn between protecting the bank and keeping her family safe, goes to Lou and confesses her prior involvement with Hayes as well as the potential for blackmail, which, of course, will affect Lou as well.

Pearson sets up a neat and interesting dichotomous situation here, whereby Lou has to compartmentalize his feelings as a jealous husband from his job as a law enforcement officer. Complicating matters is the Russian Mafia, who is squeezing Hayes physically and Liz emotionally, and Danny Foreman, a Washington State BCI investigator who is an old friend of the Boldts but whose investigation into Hayes’s activities puts him at odds with Lou. The story races to a conclusion in which Lou attempts to orchestrate several different scenarios that take place simultaneously, all with the aim of preventing the recovery of the money while attempting to protect Liz from the terrible danger she is in.

Pearson in THE BODY OF DAVID HAYES has once again worked his unique magic, creating a plausible high-tech tale that never gets bogged down in the minutiae of computer jargon while playing his characters’ emotions off of each other. The ultimate effects on Lou and Liz Boldt of the events that take place in THE BODY OF DAVID HAYES are left ambiguous at the end of the novel and will undoubtedly unfold in later installments of this series, providing both an expectation for the future and a realistic touch upon the personal lives of the characters. One is left truly caring about what will happen to these people; the ability to instill this emotion in his readers is, perhaps, Pearson’s greatest strength in his formidable literary arsenal.

“…The Body of David Hayes is a terrific novel of suspense that will leave you putting finger grooves on the book’s cover from holding it so tight…. it is a great book and probably the best of the series. It’s been a while since reading has been so much fun.”

Reviewing The Evidence

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Since his introduction in 1992’s UNDERCURRENTS, Seattle police lieutenant Lou Boldt has gone through lots of trials and tribulations. He had a one-night stand with his best friend, psychologist Daphne Matthews; his wife was diagnosed with cancer; and a criminal dubbed The Pied Piper kidnapped his young daughter.

Things are now starting to go well now that his wife is in remission from her deadly disease. But Ridley Pearson’s not going to let Lou get complacent; he is going to throw a wrench into the works and Lou’s life is about to take a massive jolt.

Several years ago Liz Boldt had an affair with someone she worked with at the bank. She disclosed this to her husband, but never divulged his identity per Lou’s request. The man was David Hayes and he has been released from jail after being paroled for embezzling over 17 million dollars from the bank. Now he wants Liz’s help to get the money back and he will do whatever it takes — cajole, threaten, or blackmail until he gets what he wants.

THE BODY OF DAVID HAYES is a terrific novel of suspense that will leave you putting finger grooves on the book’s cover from holding it so tight. Liz’s affair has been shadowing her throughout the series and she has regretted it time and time again. The maelstrom the author puts on her and her family is intense, to say the least, and in never gets boring. Many people want to recover the 17 million dollars. Everyone from the police, the FBI, and some very nasty people will be making the Boldts’ lives a living hell until they get what they want.

The novel’s strength is with character development as Liz and Lou let everything hang out in order to escape from this ordeal. There were things held back and left unsaid in previous novels but now it is no holds barred. What will happen next? How will it end? There’s only one way to find out and it is not through me!

The only complaint about this work was the anti-climactic conclusion. There is a lot of build-up throughout the novel including some shocks and surprises in the story so that one’s expectations get raised to the highest level. Regardless of that, it is a great book and probably the best of the series. It’s been a while since reading has been so much fun.

“If there is a theme for Pearson’s new Lou Boldt mystery, The Body of David Hayes, it might be ‘Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive.’ This is Pearson at his best. Sit down, put your feet up, and enjoy the long and bumpy ride.”

Over My Dead Body

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Ridley Pearson’s writing always reminds me of Hillaire Belloc’s observation that, “If you can describe clearly without a diagram the proper way of making this or that knot, then you are a master of the English tongue.” I have no doubt that Pearson, blindfolded and typing with only one hand, could have us all performing Will Rogers lasso tricks in under a hundred words.

Pick a topic… any topic… Tidal currents in Puget Sound? Secrets of ATM software? The human genome as exegesis of the criminal impulse? The man not only renders these doctoral-thesis-worthy intellectual briar patches with clarity and elan, he does so in suspense novels, for God’s sake.

With each new book, Pearson makes me want to give a little literary genuflection. I mean, he drops these complex mind-bombs on you and STILL keeps his plot ripping along at breakneck speed. I’m talking the kind of velocity where you end up feeling like a pilot stop-action photographed in that centrifuge experiment, the one where you get strapped to the tip of a spinning steel arm and whipped around so fast your lips peel back and your cheeks go all Dizzy Gillespie.

Can you imagine what a miracle it would be if all the world’s technical writers absorbed, by some virtual osmosis, Pearson’s breathtaking dexterity with complex, jargon-heavy information? We would never again be confounded by an owner’s manual. The glowing digits of every VCR clock would reflect its exact zonal variation from Greenwich Mean Time. Each slice of toast around the globe would be of an ideal and even crispness, heat, and golden-brown tone. Technical support operators would shortly be as lonely as the proverbial Maytag repairman.

With the ninth book in his Boldt/Matthews series, he’s done it again. Due out in April of 2004, The Body of David Hayes will further burnish Pearson’s reputation as a master of both plot twist and technical detail.

Centered on Seattle PD’s Lieutenant Lou Boldt and his banker wife Liz, Hayes is an artful page-turner careering from high-tech embezzlement to cancer survival guilt, the Russian mob, child musical prodigies, “counterfeit” caviar, the nefarious uses to which traffic cams can be put, and the heart-rending repercussions of infidelity.

Marriage is at the heart of this story. The Boldts have been unfaithful to one another, and have since tried to rebuild their relationship without ever coming completely clean about their indiscretions. It’s not that they’re trying to hide anything. Each has withheld information to spare the other pain, to preserve the now-fragile union so valued by both. These are deeply honorable people: the husband a gifted and ethics-driven police officer, the wife a responsible financier and ardent believer that it is her rediscovered religious faith which allowed her to survive cancer, to remain here on earth with her beloved family.

They screwed up. They forgave each other and moved on. They thought they were past it.

But when Liz Boldt’s former lover David Hayes resurfaces, this carefully mended marriage fractures along all the old faultlines. That Hayes was in jail for embezzlement from Liz’s bank and that the $17 million he
“disappeared” is still unaccounted for makes the marital friction (and just about everything else) worse, of course. Ridley-Pearson-plot-roller-coaster worse. In a big huge way.

And despite the technical razzle-dazzle—the quick costume changes, the layered nuance of the computer hacking, the wheels within wheels within wheels—what has stayed with me from this novel is the delicacy of Pearson’s “portrait of a marriage.” Down to the last scene, he nails this perfectly. Not in any oh-man-this-has- to-be-autobiographical way, but just in his ability to point up that all lasting relationships are, of necessity, patch jobs. Pearson quietly affirms that the only real structural integrity of any marriage is our will toward kindness, toward courtesy, toward offering one another sanctuary as often and to as great an extent as possible.

It’s not about absolutes, he lets the Boldts gently show us. It’s not even about total confession or perfect virtue or utterly renouncing temptation, most of the time. It’s about remembering that all married people are jammed into a sputtering rattletrap Grapes-of-Wrath truck together for the duration, with parents and kids and second-cousins and ex-lovers and a coop of chickens along for the ride. The tires will blow. The radiator will steam over. They won’t ever have your exact fanbelt anywhere between here and Barstow. In fact, there are gonna be days when you think you’ve been bumping down this hot narrow road forever, but the cool Pacific is always just over that next set of hills, and if you try really, really hard, this time it can all turn out okay.

Especially, of course, if you can avoid having that Russian mob dude shoot you up with Rohypnol, duct-tape you to a kitchen chair, and yank out two of your fingernails.

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that any novel containing all that, my friends, is one helluva story.

“IN HARM’S WAY is a suspenseful novel that challenges armchair detectives in many ways. Red herrings and real clues are scattered along the trail just begging readers to follow them to the unexpected outcome. This is a perfect beach, airplane, or vacation read.”

Book Reporter

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If there is a theme for Pearson’s new Lou Boldt mystery, THE BODY OF DAVID HAYES, it might be “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive.”

Six years ago, during a low point in Lou’s marriage, his wife Liz had a brief affair with David Hayes, a computer whiz kid at her bank. Hayes was later arrested for wire fraud and sent to prison. Now he’s out of prison, and her past indiscretion comes back to haunt her in ways she could never have imagined. Her marriage, her family, her job and her life are at risk as the complex, twisted, multifaceted case unfolds.

The story begins on a misty, cold Seattle night. Detective Lou Boldt is called to a crime scene in a dilapidated trailer park. While there is ample evidence that violence has been done in the trailer rented to David Hayes, there is no body. There is, however, a potential witness, but he can’t remember anything because he’s been shot with a stun gun, roughed up, and dosed with Rohypnol. The witness is Danny Foreman, a former colleague of Boldt’s in the Seattle PD who now works for the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Foreman has been known to be a solo player, earning him praise as well as demerits, and it looks like this is another case he’s working off the books.

Foreman and his wife Darlene were once also friends of Boldt and Liz. The two men spent many long hours together at the hospital while their wives battled cancer. Liz Boldt survived the battle; Darlene Foreman did not. After that Boldt and Foreman slowly drifted apart, and Danny tells him the reason at the crime scene: “Liz lived.” Subsequent events in the case of the missing crime victim cause Boldt to wonder just how deep Foreman’s resentment goes. He wonders, too, what his old friend’s stake is in recovering the seventeen million dollars Hayes had stolen from the bank where Liz Boldt is still an officer.

As the case progresses, Boldt becomes unsure of the motives of others in the legal system as well, leaving him with only a few people he can trust. In this most personal of Boldt’s cases the beleaguered detective has to deal with corruption in high places, the Russian mafia, torture (ouch, those torn-out fingernails!), purloined millions, counterfeit caviar, and the survival, physically as well as emotionally, of his family. Liz has her own set of problems, her own worries about who she can trust, and a fear that a certain videotape might go public and bring her more trouble than Paris Hilton. She is torn between her husband and several other interested parties who all have their own agendas for her and her skills in retrieving the missing millions. At one point she is even forced to don a Flying Nun outfit and participate in a Rocky Horror-esque version of The Sound of Music. To add insult to injury, she then has to change clothes in a bathroom stall with a psychologist who’d had a one-night stand with Lou. How much can the poor woman take!

This is Pearson at his best. Sit down, put your feet up, and enjoy the long and bumpy ride.

“Pearson found a perfect groove early on for his much-acclaimed Lou Boldt-Daphne Matthews series, and it has been running flawlessly through eight installments. He changes focus this time, moving forensic psychologist Matthews to the background and elevating the wife of Seattle police Lieutenant Boldt to center stage. Give Pearson credit for turning away, albeit temporarily, from the edgy relationship between Boldt and Matthews and tackling instead a much trickier topic: the sinews that hold together a long-term marriage. No easy task for any writer, especially one who must simultaneously face the plot-driven demands of the high-octane thriller.”


“The Body of David Hayes will further burnish Pearson’s reputation as a master of both plot twist and technical detail…”


The Art of Deception

“The Art Of Deception is a terrific book. I’ve been a Ridley Pearson fan for a long time—in the field of crime fiction he always plows new ground. And this one has got to be his best yet.”

Michael Connelly

“Pearson’s writing has never been more compelling…Pearson, already an excellent writer, continues to grow and to hone his sharp eye for description to an even finer edge.”

Book Reporter

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The backstory to THE ART OF DECEPTION, while not as interesting as the novel itself, is more interesting than any number of novels you might pick up at random. Longtime fans of Ridley Pearson will recall his 1988 novel UNDERCURRENTS. What isn’t widely known is that Pearson was subsequently contacted by a law enforcement office and advised that the research he had done while writing UNDERCURRENTS was used to solve an actual homicide. Pearson, in turn, has taken that case and based on it THE ART OF DECEPTION. Life imitates art, which imitates life, if you will.

THE ART OF DECEPTION marks the return of Seattle Police forensic psychologist Daphne Mathews and Lieutenant Lou Boldt as well as that of the recently introduced John LaMaoi. THE ART OF DECEPTION begins with the final minutes in the life of Mary-Ann Ridley, a troubled young woman in an abusive relationship. The reader is introduced, by turns, to the primary people in her life at the time of her death: Lanny Neal, her abusive boyfriend, an obnoxious, immediately unlikable sort who is a walking waste of air; and Ferrell Walker, Mary-Ann’s brother, who walks a fine line between sanity and obsessive madness, not always successfully. Mathews, still haunted by the suicide of a teenage runaway she had been counseling, throws herself into the investigation.

She is also thrown together with LaMaoi, to whom she feels a surprising but not unwelcome, developing attraction. Walker, however, interjects himself into the middle of the investigation, insisting that Neal is the murderer and sets about attempting to prove it. He also, to Mathews’s gradual and uneasy dismay, interjects himself into her life. Seattle and the police department, meanwhile, are reeling over the separate disappearances of two women whose vanishing is so devoid of clues as to make it seem as if they have been plucked off of the face of the earth. When a hotel peeping tom seems to provide a link to the disappearances, Boldt, then LaMaoi and Mathews, are led into Seattle’s Underground — the preserved remnants of the old city buried by the building of the new. The two cases dovetail when Walker demonstrates knowledge of the disappearances. Mathews, accordingly, must attempt to elicit as much as she can from Walker without giving him encouragement, unaware that the closer she gets to solving Ridley’s murder the more she places her own life in danger.

Pearson’s writing has never been more compelling; his descriptions of Seattle’s Underground — not the limited section displayed during the tours, but the good stuff that the commoners never get to see — are addictive. One can feel the walls closing in as we follow the protagonists while they pursue their quarry, racing against time. Pearson’s villains of the piece are at once highly believable and unbelievably creepy. His descriptions are brief but specific, as if they are nightmares glimpsed through open doors while running down a hallway. Pearson also continues to develop the personalities of his characters, infusing in them a believability that compels the reader to care about them long after the final page is read. Pearson, already an excellent writer, continues to grow and to hone his sharp eye for description to an even finer edge. Those encountering him for the first time in THE ART OF DECEPTION will want to peruse his seductive backlist to see what has gone before while they wait impatiently for what is to come next.

“The pages turn themselves, the sense of unease and the fear increases and the reader won’t be able to set the book down.”

Reviewing The Evidence

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Seattle police psychologist Daphne Matthews is having a hard time. After losing a pregnant girl she was trying to help the year before, Daphne is overworking herself by spending long hours as a psychologist and policewoman, and then volunteering at a teen shelter, doing her best not to think or feel very much.

When there’s the report of a floater, a dead body in the water, by the same bridge her young friend had leapt from, Daphne speeds to the scene. Unfortunately, beating her there is Deputy Prair of the Sheriff’s Department, a man who had stalked Daphne in the past and who still won’t believe that she doesn’t return his feelings for her. Daphne is spooked, but forces herself to show a calm face to the world.

When evidence is found to prove that the floater was not a jumper but was thrown, her boss and former clandestine lover police lieutenant Lou Boldt, assigns well-known playboy, Sergeant John LaMoia to work with Daphne on the case. Just coming off an addiction to painkillers, swaggering La Moia seems to see Daphne with new eyes, and though they always got along as cool colleagues before this, Daphne senses a warmed interest for her from the ladies’ man. That only reminds her that she’s been hiding herself from any emotional ties for a while. This puts even more pressure on her.

When the drowned woman is identified as Mary-Ann Walker, a search into her history uncovers an abusive boyfriend. It also brings out an unstable brother who blames his economic downfall on Mary-Ann and her boyfriend. Soon the brother, Ferrell, exhibits an over-the-top interest in Daphne, and she tries to explain it away by saying that he’s transferred his affection for his dead sister to her, but the looks he gives her make her nervous.

And then the phone calls start, and she discovers that someone has been watching her from outside her home, that someone is shadowing her. Being on the receiving end of fear and apprehension instead of being the assured professional she has always been is getting to her, and the last thing she wants is to appear like a victim to her fellow cops. So she keeps it all to herself, doing her best to practice THE ART OF DECEPTION, pushing herself to appear in control while she works the case.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Boldt had been permitted to take a breather from his desk duty in order to investigate a string of disappearances of three respectable, ordinary women, one of whom had been a friend of Boldt’s wife. Having met the woman makes this case personal. A seemingly unrelated death in a section of the city that exists underground (a remnant of the old Seattle built before the 1800s and the fire and tidal flooding that occurred at that time) is brought to his attention by the head of the Asian community. That accidental death appears to be related to the missing women.

The different cases are linked and woven together, and THE ART OF DECEPTION gives the readers a spectacular, thrilling ride. Unlike the other books in the Boldt/Matthews series, this book has Boldt take a side seat to Daphne. Told from a woman’s viewpoint, a policewoman and psychologist to boot, is fascinating, and the story as expressed through her pride in her job and her personal fears is amazing in its realism. The pages turn themselves, the sense of unease and the fear increases and the reader won’t be able to set the book down.

Ridley Pearson has done a masterful job of this book. The details, the atmosphere, and the three-dimensional characters all combine for a fabulous read. I’d not only recommend THE ART OF DECEPTION, I also recommend anything that Ridley Pearson writes. His books are gritty and real, and his name on the cover almost guarantees a fine read.

“This book is a real psychological thriller and page-turner. It is a complex mystery with a great cast of characters. This has to be one of Ridley Pearson’s best books, if not the best.”

Best Sellers World

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Daphne Mathews is a Seattle Police forensic psychologist, who also volunteers as a teenage runaway counselor.  She is trying to deal with the memory of a teenage runaway who committed suicide a year ago.  When a woman’s body is found underneath the Aurora Bridge, Daphne is the first to arrive.  The body is identified as Mary-Ann.  Mary-Ann’s brother is blaming the death on the abusive boyfriend.  However, the boyfriend states that he is innocent.  Matthews now has help she does not really want.  Mary-Ann’s brother is developing a “strange” interest in Daphne.  Now the stalking begins – phone calls, noises outside the house and shadows that move in the night.  Is this person trying to help or harm her?  Matthews’ life will now depend on her skills and deception.

This book is a real psychological thriller and page-turner.  It is a complex mystery with a great cast of characters.  This has to be one of Ridley Pearson’s best books, if not the best.

Middle of Nowhere

“Ridley knows cops, knows crime, and knows how to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck…”

Dave Barry

“Middle of Nowhere is Ridley Pearson at his best, which is very good indeed—deft plot, smart talk, and real writing. Pure pleasure.”

Scott Turow

“In Middle of Nowhere, Ridley Pearson has combined a page-turning plot and wonderfully developed characters with efficient, stylish prose. The result is yet another high octane thriller from the master of the genre.”

Nicholas Sparks

“Pearson rarely glamorizes or sensationalizes police work, and never has it looked as gritty and grim as it does in this novel, with officer pitted against officer and brass against rank-and-file…. Boldt spends so much of Middle of Nowhere exhausted, that when adrenaline-fueled heroics come at the story’s end, they are all the more amazing and authentic. This book provides no rest for Boldt or for the reader—or for Pearson, for that matter, who is surely at work on the next installment of this red-hot series.”

January Magazine

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Middle of Nowhere falls short of its billing as a blockbuster thriller, but it is nevertheless likely to heighten Ridley Pearson’s reputation as the author of one of the strongest series in contemporary crime fiction. His protagonist, Seattle homicide lieutenant Lou Boldt, has developed into a character whose mere presence is enough to guarantee a good read. The distinguished investigator and part-time jazz pianist has the potent mix of heroism and humanity that characterizes the great fictional detectives. He’s devoted to his career and his family, but that devotion will always be threatened by flaws — in Boldt’s case, a history of alcoholism and a still-smoldering involvement with his colleague and friend, Lieutenant Daphne Matthews.

Never have Boldt’s challenges, from both without and within, been deadlier than in Middle of Nowhere, the latest in this seven-book series (begun with Undercurrents, 1988). In some of the earlier outings, Pearson pitted Boldt against the crazed killers so often favored by thriller writers. Fortunately, Middle of Nowhere, like its predecessor, The First Victim (1999), focuses not on made-for-TV-type wackos but on bad guys with chillingly believable motives: revenge, jealousy, misplaced loyalty, guilt and greed.

As the book opens, the city of Seattle is reeling from an unusual wave of burglaries and assaults — most likely a secondary symptom of the “blue flu” that has most of the police department calling in sick. Boldt, however, remains on his job at the head of the depleted Crimes Against Persons (CAP) squad.

Because of the short staffing, an intruder alarm at a private residence rings for 40 minutes before a rookie patrolman arrives and is horrified to discover that the victim is a fellow officer, Maria Sanchez. She is bound to her bed, unconscious, her neck broken. The first detective on the scene is Bobbie Gaynes, a young woman from Sex Crimes who is Boldt’s current protégé in Homicide. Gaynes attempts to categorize the assault as a date rape (“Guy ties her up and gets too aggressive. Accidentally snaps her spine and takes off”), but Boldt has the uneasy feeling that the assault was premeditated and even more sinister.

He discovers that this offense against Sanchez came shortly after she took over the investigation of a series of burglaries from a group of cops who left in the “sick-out.” Boldt wonders, Did she get too close and invite the wrath of the burglar? Or could she have been beaten up by fellow officers who were upset that she was doing their work? Sanchez, paralyzed and speechless in her hospital bed, tries to answer his questions using eye signals. But she loses consciousness, leaving Boldt frustrated and chilled. “A pair of eyes, Daffy,” he tells Matthews. “That’s all that’s left of her.”

Throughout this book, the pendulum of suspicion about Sanchez’s attacker swings tantalizingly back and forth between bad cops — perhaps motivated by something more pathological than job dissatisfaction — and a vicious burglar. Boldt is tempted to go with the first theory after three men jump him in his driveway late at night. When a neighbor’s guard dog comes to his aid, one of the assailants shouts in cop jargon, “K-9!” before fleeing into the dark.

But Boldt and Matthews find evidence that links a string of unsolved break-ins and attacks — similar to the assault on Sanchez — to a known criminal. Unfortunately, they bungle the investigation and inadvertently send their suspect over the edge by causing the death of his partner-in-crime. Soon the armed and dangerous suspect turns to stalking Boldt and his partner, bent on revenge.

Throughout this book Boldt is, as usual, torn between family and career. He’s exhausted from overwork and spending a risky amount of time with Matthews (now single after a long relationship with a Seattle high-tech millionaire). Fortunately, Pearson spices up this here-we-go-again scenario by sending in one of the series’ most enigmatic characters, Sergeant John LeMoia, to serve as their undercover partner:

He was a man who moved seamlessly between the uniforms and the brass, the meter maids and the Sex Crimes detectives, the entrepreneurial friend-to-all who always had an investment worth your making or a bet worth placing. He navigated a thin line between snitches and interrogation rooms, right and wrong, never quite crossing into criminal behavior, but always carrying a cloud of uncertainty in the wake of his swagger.

LeMoia had deeply disappointed Boldt by succumbing to the blue flu. Yet he turns out to have a secret that links him to Sanchez and eventually spurs him to help find her attacker.

Pearson rarely glamorizes or sensationalizes police work, and never has it looked as gritty and grim as it does in this novel, with officer pitted against officer and brass against rank-and-file. Long, lonely hours are spent poring over reports and going door-to-door conducting interviews with sniveling snitches and contemptuous yuppies. Equipment fails. Bureaucrats from other agencies drop the ball. Boldt’s wife, in remission from cancer, protests his round-the-clock duties. Again and again, the detective breaks promises he has made to her. And keeping promises to her, he makes decisions that put Matthews or his investigation in jeopardy.

Boldt spends so much of Middle of Nowhere exhausted, that when adrenaline-fueled heroics come at the story’s end, they are all the more amazing and authentic. This book provides no rest for Boldt or for the reader — or for Pearson, for that matter, who is surely at work on the next installment of this red-hot series.

The First Victim

“Impeccably paced, beautifully observed and moving with a crescendo of suspense, this is another thoughtful and exciting Seattle-based police thriller from Pearson, whose skill at maintaining a balance between the narrative thrust of his plot and the personal lives of his characters makes him a top-notch practitioner of the genre…. Atmospheric descriptions of Seattle and some fascinating forensic evidence add texture to a riveting story.”

Publishers Weekly

“Pearson’s Lou Boldt series continues to meld the small-scale, detail-driven precision of the best procedurals with the large-canvas, screw-tightening suspense of such high-concept thrillers as Silence of the Lambs…. As always, Pearson builds suspense incrementally, brilliantly amassing details until his plot reaches critical mass at just the right moment.”


“Ridley Pearson is a triple threat writer with a reputation for interesting, involving characters, in-depth background research and page-turning plots.”

Book Reporter

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Ridley Pearson is a triple threat writer with a reputation for interesting, involving characters, in-depth background research and page-turning plots. He freely admits that the most enjoyable part of the process is the research, which not only lends authenticity to the project at hand, but frequently stirs his imagination for books to come. His diligent research of the tidal patterns of Seattle’s Puget Sound (the locus of his novels featuring curmudgeonly detective Lou Boldt) led to an engrossing mystery called UNDERCURRENTS. His exhaustive research on adoption scams for last year’s best-selling novel, PIED PIPER, led him to discover the medieval and unconscionable practice of abandoning female babies in contemporary China. He combined this background information in his latest thriller, THE FIRST VICTIM, which began to take form in his mind as he wrote other books.

Young Chinese women pay thousands of dollars to be sealed in shipping containers and smuggled to America. Little do they know the fate that awaits them upon their arrival: prostitution, slave labor in sweat shops for unscrupulous garment industry bosses, or worse — death at sea.

A shipping container is found floating in Puget Sound. Known as “Metal Icebergs,” they are considered a hazard to navigation and the Coast Guard is called to remove them. Strictly routine, until they approach the sinking container and hear human cries. To the horror of the Coast Guard, local media and Seattle police, three of the women inside are dead, and more than a dozen others are dehydrated and near starvation.

Stevie McNeal, a popular Seattle television news anchor latches on to the human interest story, much to the distaste of the Seattle police, and especially Captain Lou Boldt. McNeal has a personal interest in the story because her adopted little sister, Melissa, a young Chinese woman and a stringer for the television station, decides to explore the story and goes missing. McNeal joins Lou Boldt and detective Jake LaMoia in the hunt for the missing reporter. Their investigation leads them into the dens of the Chinese Triad and to the powerful Mama Lu.

Authentic locations, chases through rusting hulks in a flotilla of junked ships, and a ticking clock plot, propel the book to its exciting finale. While Pearson pads the early portion of the book with information to bring new readers up to speed with the continuing characters, a familiarity with his earlier books will enhance the reader’s enjoyment.

The Pied Piper

“Pearson proves once again that he can put together a big-scale big-time police manhunt better than anybody else in the business…”


“It’s twists like this that fuel the rest of the novel as Pearson tightens the screws on Boldt as he tries to find his daughter and prevent another kidnapping…. none of it confusing for first-timers, who may be tempted to pick up earlier novels to see whether they’re all this good.”

Publishers Weekly

“The chilling center of this extraordinary suspense tale is a parent’s worst nightmare. Ridley Pearson punches up the terror to new heights with this completely unforgettable thriller.”

Romantic Times

“The action charges from Seattle to Portland to New Orleans in a tightly-woven, roller coaster plot. Pearson, not content to simply weave a page-turning story, fleshes out his characters and makes them come alive.”

Book Reporter

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Infants are being snatched from their cribs in a baby-selling scam, leaving a string of grieving parents and perplexed police departments from San Diego to Seattle.  A penny whistle flute is left in each empty crib, leading the news media to dub the kidnapper The Pied Piper.  The public is howling, the politicians are nervous and parents and police are being hounded by the press.  When the baby snatcher moves to Seattle and steals a 5-month-old girl while her parents are out for dinner—leaving the sitter unconscious — Police Detective Lou Boldt is called in to consult and help solve the case.

The FBI, on the case for six months to no avail, charges in to try to command the investigation already underway by the local Task Force, headed by Sgt. John LaMoia,  Boldt’s replacement in the detective division.   Boldt has been kicked upstairs to head up the SPD Intelligence Division while his wife is in the hospital for treatment of leukemia.

A second baby disappears and her sitter is killed during the kidnaping. Clues begin to fall into place and Boldt, forensic pathologist Daphne Matthews and the Task Force feel certain they are on the right track. Then the evidence dries up and they find themselves against the wall. Someone is sabotaging the investigation, but why? Is it a local cop, someone in the news media, or is it a rogue FBI agent?

Ridley Pearson’s popular series detective Lou Boldt is faced with the greatest dilemma of his life when his own daughter is kidnaped and he receives a terrifying ransom note — a CD video of his daughter with the threat that if he doesn’t impede the investigation, she will die.  He must decide whether to sandbag the case or call in his cohorts LaMoia and Matthews to go underground and not only foil the kidnapper, but also discover the identity of the turncoat.  He must also confront his seriously ill wife with the news that their youngest child is missing.

The action charges from Seattle to Portland to New Orleans in a tightly-woven, roller coaster plot.  Pearson, not content to simply weave a page-turning story, fleshes out his characters and makes them come alive.

The principle difference between Ridley Pearson’s crime writing and others of this genre is a lack of blood and gore often associated with forensic thrillers.  This is my first encounter with Lou Boldt and Daphne Matthews, despite their populating several previous novels.  Established fans will enjoy this suspenseful new work, and new readers will certainly search out other titles by the author Clive Cussler describes as “one hell of a writer.”

Beyond Recognition

“For complex, intelligent plots, intense emotions and powerful thrills, no one does it better…”

Romantic Times

“Pearson’s dazzling forensics will hook his usual fans. But it’s the richness of incident and the control of pace that’ll keep them dangling as he switches gears each time you think the story’s got to be winding down in this exhilarating entertainment.”


“The best suspense writers never stop playing the reader’s emotions, alternating the rhythm of hot and cold, taut and slack, to create a syncopated form of torture as painful as it is exquisite…. You have to be a bit of a masochist to give in to a Pearson plot, but when you do, it hurts so good.”


“Pearson writes such a believable detective. He is not just a “stud” or just a “hard-nose” or one dimensional in any way. He is the total package.”

Reviews And More

No Witnesses

“If it is possible for a book to be both terrifying and sensible, this is it….Pearson is becoming one of the most consistent and competent writers in the business. He wraps his tales in a tight but believable tale of technology and cunning.”

Oscala Star Bulletin

“You like action—it’s here. Romance—it’s got it. Intriguing personalities, suspense, surprise ending. This is one of those books that every fan has to read.”

Don Buck

“We must fervently hope that this author keeps his criminal mind in the fictive realm, because he’s the best I’ve ever seen at thinking up heinous ways to foil the police.”

Mystery Guide

“Another fast paced, engrossing read from Ridley Pearson. I have added the remaining books of his that I have yet to read to my shopping cart. It involved staying up late, being scared, holding my breath…”

Reviews And More

The Angel Maker

“Exceptionally gripping and full of amazing forensic lore: a top-flight offering from an author who’s clearly found his groove…”


“Pearson’s engaging forensic detail—he makes complicated, potentially disgusting facts almost entertaining—and brisk prose will have readers racing to the cliffhanger climax.”

Publishers Weekly

“Ridley Pearson scares me. He’s the only writer I can think of who genuinely and regularly frightens the bejesus out of me, with his uncanny ability to winkle out the most terrifying potentialities of postmodern life.”

Mystery Guide

“Ridley Pearson never fails to entertain, and in this book, the second in the series he proves that he can drive a story like Kyle Petty drives cars.”

Books n Bytes

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This is one of my favorite Ridley Pearson books, and since I just reread it, I thought I might as well review it.

Lou Boldt is a wonderful character and in this book we really get to know him. His way of getting sucked into a case is what really makes him work as the hero. In this book Daphne, the psychologist Boldt works with, stumbles across something while she is helping at a shelter for runaways. It appears that someone is harvesting organs. The villain in this book is truly evil, and yet almost realistic. Pearson does such a great job with his writing that the events seem totally realistic. When I read this book, I felt the rain and the wind. And I read faster at the end because I was getting nervous about the doctor gone bad.

Ridley Pearson never fails to entertain, and in this book, the second in the series he proves that he can drive a story like Kyle Petty drives cars.


The undercurrents in this vivid, conpulsively readable novel never stop swirling, just like the tides in Puget Sound…”


“Pearson here milks the police procedural for all it’s worth, coming up with a read-through-the-night story that’s a savory treat.”


“He has… an authentic feeling for police investigation and forensic medicine, and a remarkable insight and understanding of the motivations of the criminal mind.”

Publishers Weekly

“This is one of the best plots in the subgenre, crackling with the inventive energy of a writer finding his ideal groove for the first time; but readers should be warned that it can require considerable active intelligence to follow through its surprising twists, sudden splits, and painstaking changes of direction.”

Mystery Guide