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Deception Cove


Deception Cove

DECEPTION COVE is a remarkable work. One would expect this from anything written by Owen Laukkanen, author of the exceptional Stevens and Windermere series. His latest, however, surpasses those worthy novels and quite a few others that you may have read so far this year. This might be the book to beat when the annual mystery and thriller awards get passed out.

The premise has a few moving parts that meet their nexus at Lucy, a pit bull mix rescued from a dog-fighting ring. While incarcerated for first-degree murder, Mason Burke was paired with Lucy in a program that recruited prison inmates to train therapy dogs for subsequent placement elsewhere. After training, Lucy was placed with Jess Winslow, a former Marine who was widowed while in service and subsequently discharged for post- traumatic stress disorder incurred while in Afghanistan. Jess’ life was in shambles when she returned home to Deception Cove, Washington. Lucy is her only bright spot, but Jess loses the dog after an altercation with Kirby Harwood, a corrupt deputy county sheriff.

"[I]f Laukkanen writes 50 more of this quality, it wouldn’t be enough. You will feel the same way once you read this story, and find your mind engaged and your heart stolen."

It seems that Jess’ husband Ty, at some point near his untimely and suspicious death, stole a package from Harwood and hid it, hoping to parlay its return into a payoff. Harwood is sure that Jess knows where and what the package is, which would be an incorrect conclusion. Things go south when Harwood accosts Jess, and Lucy forcefully interjects herself. Harwood confiscates the dog and threatens to have her put down as a dangerous animal.

It is at this point that Mason, having served his sentence, is released from prison and returns to his sister’s home in Michigan to live. With a bit of effort and internet research, he discovers Lucy’s location and learns that she is scheduled to be put down. Mason does what anyone would do: he immediately travels across the country to Washington state to reunite with his old friend. This puts him crossways with Harwood and creates an initially uneasy alliance between Mason, the ex-convict, and Jess, the former Marine. The two of them proceed to rescue Lucy, and then somehow stay alive with Harwood and two other corrupt deputies after them.

Meanwhile, Harwood has his own problems. That missing package is actually the property of Ateke Okafor, a crime lord whose partnership with Harwood does not leave room for slipups. Okafor dispatches his associate, Joy, to Deception Cove to assist Harwood in the retrieval of the package, an action that places all concerned in significant danger. Jess doesn’t know what her dead husband stole, but she has a faint idea of where it might be. She and Mason figure that their best hope of staying alive is to get to the package first, but they are also leading Joy and Harwood to it. Matters come to a head and play out on a deserted island in a violent conclusion that keeps readers guessing the outcome practically to the last page.

There is some indication that DECEPTION COVE may be the first in a series. Speaking only for myself, if Laukkanen writes 50 more of this quality, it wouldn’t be enough. You will feel the same way once you read this story, and find your mind engaged and your heart stolen.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on May 24, 2019

Deception Cove
by Owen Laukkanen

  • Publication Date: July 21, 2020
  • Genres: Adventure, Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books
  • ISBN-10: 0316448680
  • ISBN-13: 9780316448680