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We are just past Memorial Day, and already we are receiving plenty of terrific summer reads regardless of what form your vacation may take. First among many of these is HUSH, an Australian police procedural that bears more than a faint resemblance to its American cousins and should be at or near the top of your must-read pile.

This is the fourth installment in James Patterson and Candice Fox’s series featuring Harriet Blue, a somewhat unorthodox member of the Sydney Police Department who has had a penchant for skirting the edges of trouble. Within the first couple of pages, the authors hasten to inform us that Harriet (as a result of events occurring in LIAR LIAR) has become “Inmate 3329” in the women’s section of Johnsonborough Correctional Complex.

"HUSH is a fast-paced ride that races toward its twin conclusions with the suspense quotient ratcheted up to 11, if not beyond."

Being a former law enforcement officer has painted a target on Harriet’s back. She has just warded off the latest in a series of attacks by her fellow inmates when Deputy Police Commissioner Joe Woods pays her a visit. It was Woods who put Harriet in prison to begin with, so she is hardly happy --- much less willing --- to meet with him. But he is coming to her with a major ask. Tonya, his substance-addicted daughter, has disappeared with his two-year-old granddaughter. He is convinced that Harriet, with her solid tenaciousness, can find them, so he offers her a deal she can’t refuse: He will get her released from prison to investigate, and if she can find them, she remains a free woman.

In the wake of Harriet’s departure, a beloved prison doctor is killed, and her cellmate --- one of the few people there she could trust --- is charged with her murder. Harriet circles back during the course of the book to solve that crime from the outside (mostly) looking in, while she undertakes a search throughout the Sydney area to locate Woods’ missing family, with the very able assistance of her police partners: Tox Barnes, who is no stranger to substance abuse problems himself, and Edward “Whitt” Whittaker. Barnes, as is obvious to one and all, is a lady magnet, while Whitt is attracted to Harriet, an affectation that we know will be unrequited.

The search is a gritty one that takes the team across the width and breadth of Sydney from its highest to lowest points. They deal with a crooked lawyer who will do anything to keep his lucrative practice intact and trade shots with a drug-dealing biker gang. While there isn’t much mystery here, at least with one of the cases, HUSH is a fast-paced ride that races toward its twin conclusions with the suspense quotient ratcheted up to 11, if not beyond.

This series has at least one more book in its future, and that is a terrific thing. Patterson does not lack for interesting characters, but Harriet Blue stands out due to her somewhat prickly nature and willingness to go the extra mile on the violence road. You can read HUSH on its own, but circle back afterward and delve into NEVER NEVER, FIFTY FIFTY and LIAR LIAR. Oh, and did I neglect to mention BLACK & BLUE, a short novel in the BookShots format that serves as a bit of a prequel to the series? If you are not familiar with these books, now is the perfect time to catch up.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on June 5, 2020

by James Patterson and Candice Fox

  • Publication Date: June 2, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1538751135
  • ISBN-13: 9781538751138