“Risk Factor”

Shootings, robberies, and cybercrimes in small-town California

“Risk Factor” is part of Michael Brandman’s “Buddy Steel Mystery” series. People have moved on a bit from the last book, but any details new readers might need are part of the current narrative. This is Buddy’s story in his first person narrative; he talks to readers, and he talks to himself. He controls the story; readers hear what he says to other people and what they say to him. Buddy is believable and complex with personal challenges. Buddy has two distinct and different attitudes; sometimes he is casual yet focused and concise, but his professional tone is intense and no nonsense.

Buddy had been working as a deputy in the San Remo Sheriff’s Department with his father, the sheriff, and has taken a soul-searching vacation. His relationship with his father is strained at times, professional when needed, but always caring and affectionate. He is the prodigal son and not interested in taking over his father’s job, and yet his father and his father’s job need him.  He returns to “work” because there has been a rash of robberies in Freedom, despite elaborate home alarm systems.  Then the unthinkable happens; a deputy is involved in a shooting. As the investigation continues, a much darker pattern evolves. Events increase in complexity and are not what they seemed to be at first.  Eventually things get very personal, and Buddy’s safety is threatened.

“Risk Factor” moves at a deliberate pace, increasing in intensity page after page. Signs point to clues, and yet every revelation is a surprise. I received a review copy of “Risk Factor” from Michael Brandman and Poisoned Pen Press. It is not necessary to have read the other books to enjoy this one, however the continuing characters and  developing relationships in this book encourage new readers to “catch up” by going back to read the previous ones.