It has been a few months since the events in August Snow and it is dark times in the “Mexicantown” area of Detroit. ICE agents in their blacked out Chevy Suburbans are rolling through the area, especially at night, going after anyone and everyone. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are following the unofficial motto favored by the locals – “If it is brown, lock it down.” (Page 2)
While they go around putting fear in the hearts of everyone by their presence, real crime still happens in the city of Detroit. It is June and that means stifling heat and humidity and the climate of fear felt by so many is not helping things. Then there is a recent suicide that was actually way more than the tragic end of a life.
A young woman plunged head first into the Detroit River from the Ambassador Bridge and did not survive the encounter. Snow’s contact in the Wayne County Coroner’s office, Dr. James Robert “Bobby” Falconi is haunted by her case. One that is going to go nowhere as no record of her exists and the authorities, thanks to massive budget cuts, don’t have the personnel or resources to spend the time to find out who she is or what happened to her. Far easier to just call it a suicide by a Jane Doe and close the case.
Simpler, but not right.
The dead woman is Hispanic and Bobbi hopes that somebody August Snow knows, and he knows many folks in all walks of life, will put a name to her. With a name there should be a way to find her family. Loved ones who have no idea where she is at and should be there to lay her down at her final resting place. Bobbi is very upset by the case and August quickly agrees to look into things and try to identify her.
Finding out her name and who she is was the easy part. Dealing with what the young woman was facing in the days and hours until she jumped is a much bigger and far more dangerous problem in Lives Laid Away by Stephen Mack Jones.
Using the always present topics of racism, immigration, human trafficking, and more, award winning author Stephen Mack Jones has crafted a superb sequel to his debut mystery, August Snow. One could easily toss around the terms “ripped from the headlines” and “inspired by true events” and one would not be wrong though one would be simplistic. While those concepts and ideas are background in the read, the book is far more complicated than a drama of the week. While dealing with such subjects, Lives Laid Away can’t help but contain a few accurate observations about the current political climate of the country, the positive aspects of immigration, as well as the lives of those who, for whatever reason, live in the shadows providing services while asking nothing more than to be left alone. Those fact driven details, all of which serve to conflict with the conservative point of view regarding immigration and immigration policy, serve as nuanced background to a very complex mystery.
A very complex mystery that is built on a complicated main character, a cast of richly drawn secondary characters, and a multilayered backstory for nearly everyone in the book that continues the series as a whole. Like any good series it is always best to read in order. Such is the case here where Lives Laid Away not only builds on the events in August Snow, such evets are frequently referenced throughout the book.
If I was one of those people who ranked their favorite books of the year, August Snow would have easily made my top five if not the number one spot. Lives Laid Away is right there with the first book.
My review of August Snow from last April can be found here.
Lives Laid Away
Stephen Mack Jones
Stephen Mack Jones
Hardback (also available in eBook and audio formats)
Copy provided by the good folks of the Lochwood Branch of the Dallas Public Library.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2019