Regular readers of The Grandstander know that I am a big fan of mystery/thriller author Max Allan Collins. His series of private eye novels featuring Chicago based PI Nate Heller are among the very best of the genre. So I was excited to see that Collins is launching a new series of thrillers that feature Galena, Illinois Chief of Police Krista Larson, "the youngest female Chief of Police in the United States."
As the first novel in the series, we are introduced to Krista and to to her father, Keith, a recently retired and widowed police detective. After he experiences some depression over the death of his wife, Krista asks her Dad to move back into the family home, where Krista now resides and from which she recently kicked out her live-in boyfriend.
The story of this novel revolves around Krista's Ten Year High School Reunion (told you she was young!), where Astrid Lund, the Girls Most Likely to Succeed, returns as the star attraction of the reunion, because she is (a) extremely beautiful, and (b) she is now a highly successful television news reporter in Chicago. She also had a habit in high school of stealing, it seems, every other girl's boyfriend, so not everyone is all that happy to see this little vixen return for the reunion. Lots old old wounds get opened at the Galena High School Reunion.
As you might guess, Astrid ends up getting herself killed, and Krista now has a homicide to investigate in her sleepy little tourist town. It also happens that another female member of the class was murdered in a similar fashion if Florida several months before the reunion. Krista enlists the aide of her Dad on a pro bono basis to help determine if the two homicides were related (the reader knows that they were), and if anyone else in danger from this killer.
Although I didn't love this book as I love Collins' Heller and "Disaster Series" mysteries, I liked it and am glad that this will be a series (the second book is already written and in the editing stages). I like the character of Krista, although I hope that she will come to rely less and less on her Dad as the series moves along. "Girl Most Likely" had one plot element that involved Keith that seemed unnecessary (I'm not going to spell it out as I don't want to give a quasi-spoiler). However, a personal matter involving Keith seems to be left wide open for development in future books, so I'm guessing that this series will revolve around the father as much as it will the daughter.
All in all though, I found "Girl Most Likely" to be enjoyable and eminently readable, and I look forward to future stories about Chief Krista Larson. It gets Two and One-Half Stars from The Grandstander, and I see the potential of these books getting better as the series moves on and the character of Krista continues to develop.