FALSE DAWN starts with a premise that has worked reliably for many writers. Sean O’Brien is a retired homicide detective from Miami who moves to a rural area along the banks of a river after his wife dies. He promised her that he would no longer do any criminal investigations but he needs to break that promise when he finds the brutally beaten body of a teenage girl by the river bank. She whispers something to him in a language that he doesn’t understand.
When she dies, Sean decides that he has to find the man who killed her. This annoys the FBI, the Miami Police, and the local, corrupt, lead detective in the case. He acquires a protector, a Native American, a member of a tribe that has lived in the area since time began. Sean watches as he digs an arrow head out of the mud in the river. When Sean returns to his house, he finds the arrow head on his table, all cleaned and polished. This must be a portent of something.
There is an agri-business that uses illegals and treats them like slaves. There is human trafficking, sexual slavery, prostitution, drug running and a big boss who makes money from them all. He also has a son who is running for office.
Sean doesn’t know what the girl whispered to him but he is able to write what he thought he heard. A friend who lives on a nearby boat (did I mention that Sean lives on a boat?) sees the message and recognizes it as Aztec, a language in which he happens to be fluent. He tells Sean that the girl ‘s last words were, “he has the eyes of a jaguar”.
There is also a serial killer.
Despite all these really overworked elements, FALSE DAWN is a very readable book. A second book in the series has been published recently and I plan to read it.