Desolation Canyon – PJ Tracy

I was thrilled to see that a second book in the Maggie Nolan series was available and have jumped at the chance to read it! 

As the novel opens, Margaret “Maggie” Nolan is headed to the gun range and contemplating life and the loss of her close friend a few years ago, and more recently her brother’s loss overseas. Having recently taken a life in the line of duty, Maggie is struggling to navigate her mental health after these events. Shortly afterward, she opts to meet Detective Remy Beaudreau for drinks at the Hotel Bel-Air, where they stumble upon a homicide victim, floating in the lake. 

Meanwhile, miles away in the desert, a young woman, Marielle, is desperately planning her escape from a captor that has held her and her daughter in his compound for far too long. Tonight is the night she plans to flee. 

Sam Easton, sole survivor of an IED that killed his entire unit in Afghanistan, is learning to navigate his PTSD. After a long jog in Desolation Canyon, in the desert like area of So. California, Sam is resting and sharing his water with a nearby lizard, when he hears a rifle shot. He returns to his vehicle and heads out to a service station on the edge of the Canyon for gas and snacks, where the clerk, Mike, clearly learning disabled, reports that aliens are being sought after and shot in the desert. He sees Sam’s scars, and attributing them to an alien attack, confides that he feels the local retreat, “The Children of the Desert” may be connected to the alien troubles. As Sam leaves the station, the conversation sticks with him. 

Meanwhile, Maggie’s mother, still struggling with the loss of her son, has decided to spend a weekend on a retreat in Desolation Canyon – at The Children of the Desert compound. With the retreat drawing rave reviews from socialites and the Hollywood elite, she thinks it may be just what she needs to come to terms with her loss. 

As Maggie, partner Al, and Remy begin their investigation, all of these story lines, seemingly independent of one another, begin to appear linked, with The Children of the Desert seeing to be front and center. Can Maggie and her crew get to the bottom of the hornet’s nest they’ve inadvertently stirred up before someone else has to die? 

This was a great read! It took me a bit to settle in and re-connect with the characters and their backstories, and I feel like it started a bit slowly as all the groundwork was being set, but once it picked up, I couldn’t put it down! Lots of action, plot-twists and suspense, but it all came together nicely in the end. Maggie is a reluctant hero struggling with her own mental health and there is much more depth to the key characters this go around. I’m anxious now for the next installment in this riveting new series! Great read! 

I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy from #Netgalley & St. Martin’s Press – Minotaur Books, in exchange for an objective review.