Black Sheep by CJ Lyons is the sequel to Blind Faith featuring FBI agent Caitlyn Tierney (available February 26, 2013).
As a thriller writer, CJ Lyons has a stellar reputation, but I must confess that I was never a loyal follower—until now. Oh sure, I’d heard lots of noise among readers about how they simply could not put down an Angels of Mercy medical thriller or how they got lost in one of the sexy and forceful Shadow Ops books and could barely come up for air, but I tend to prefer cozies and just didn’t think CJ Lyons wrote her stories with me in mind.
So I bypassed Blind Faith, the first book in Lyons’s new series featuring FBI Agent Caitlyn Tierney, but when I heard about the second book, Black Sheep, the plotline intrigued me and I decided it was time to give CJ Lyons a try.
The book opens with, of all things, Caitlin holding a gun to another FBI agent’s head and challenging, no, ordering his partner to drop her gun. It was a dramatic standoff that had me immediately wondering if Caitlyn had switched sides. Of course she hadn’t. It was merely a training session and Caitlyn wound up shooting the agents with simunition covering them with green neon paint, which inflicted damaged only to the egos of the NATS, i.e., new-agents-in-training.
The exercise brings up the horror that Caitlyn recently experienced when her own life and the lives of hundreds of others were at stake. The recollection still rattles her. All she wants to do is go home and spend some time alone, but she also faces complications on the homefront. Her lover, Paul, a Washington, D.C., doctor, is ready to settle down and that idea scares Caitlyn more than any gunfight could.
Then a phone call intensifies the chaos in Caitlyn’s life. A chaplain from Butner Penitentiary just outside Raleigh, North Carolina, calls and begs her to come to talk with a prisoner named Eli Hale, a man who had shattered Caitlyn’s childhood, causing her father, a sheriff’s deputy, to commit suicide when she was just nine years old.
Her dad killed himself because of what Eli Hale had done. He’d been about to lose his job because he was still defending Eli, trying to prove his innocence, saying Eli was with him at the time of the murder, even after Eli confessed to hitting a Cherokee tribal elder with a hammer then burning down the man’s house to cover it up. No, she didn’t blame her father for abandoning her all those years ago. For taking a coward’s way out. For ripping her world apart. She didn’t blame her father. She blamed Eli Hale.
And now, twenty-six years later, this phone call brings back all the hatred she feels toward Eli. Although she initially refuses to meet with him, the thought that Eli’s daughter Lena, a woman now, but a baby in Caitlyn’s memory, may be in danger, combined with the many questions Caitlyn still has, sends her to the prison to visit Eli. She is so shaken by what transpires there that she can only head to her home town of Evergreen, North Carolina, to search for more answers.
But home isn’t what it once was. Her uncle runs a casino on Cherokee land. A biker gang seems to run everything else in town. One biker in particular gets under Caitlyn’s skin a little too easily and woven throughout the story are the missing zoo animals. They could be a real problem, especially the leopard. And Caitlyn’s domineering mother shows up at the most inconvenient moment and has invited Paul, who appears blissfully unaware of the danger Caitlyn faces.
CJ Lyons has plots and subplots galore in this fast-paced thriller but she never moves too fast for the reader to keep up with the fascinating story lines. Terrific writing like this could easily convert me to read thrillers more regularly.
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Terrie Farley Moran’s recent collection of short stories, THE AWARENESS and other deadly tales, is currently available in e-format for the Nook and for the Kindle. Terrie blogs at Women of Mystery. She is currently writing a cozy mystery set in southwest Florida.