Whispers of the Dead (Special Tracking Unit #2) by Spencer Kope
Kope brings a unique background to the art of writing crime fiction; he’s a crime analyst for a Washington State county law enforcement department. He also has been in the U.S. Navy Intelligence Office. That he is analytical shows in his writing.
The stories of the Special Tracking Unit (STU) are told from Mangus “Steps” Craig as he travels the not so friendly skies with his partner and, to an extent, his minder, Jimmy Donovan. Together, along with Diane, they make up the STU which is tasked with (surprise, surprise) tracking down criminals and finding lost people.
Steps has a well defined self deprecating wit, a love of his life, a brother that he lives with and the family of the STU, including Les and Marty, pilot and co-pilot of their Gulfstream jet which carries them hither and yon chasing bad guys.
If you have a foot fetish you’re either going to really like or really hate this story. It has to do with feet. Feet, chopped off of bad guys by a vigilante. It’s this vigilante that has Steps and Jimmy running between Albuquerque, New Mexico and Baton Rough, Louisiana. (I cannot read Baton Rouge, or hear it mentioned without hearing it spoken with a Cajun accent due to a Top Sargent I had during my days in the Army who was from Baton Rouge.) (That has nothing to do with this book nor the review; this is what’s called an “aside”.)
But Steps has a unique talent, or ability if you will, that helps him track people. He sees “shine”, a synesthesia that manifest itself in a colored track that people leave behind. Think of a snail’s track only with unique colors for everyone and textures as well. From looking at the shine of an individual Steps can tell if they are alive or dead.
Steps’ ability is a secret; only his father, his “uncle” (who happens to be the director of the FBI and thus why Steps has the job that he does, and Jimmy. Not even Diane nor Heather, the woman that Steps adores knows. Though from this book that may change soon. (Not a real spoiler I don’t think.)
Steps and Jimmy are first called to El Paso (a city with a street numbering system that would drive a GPS insane from my personal experience) where a local judge has found a Styrofoam cooler with two feet. . . anatomically speaking, not the measurement; please do pay attention now; in the center of his living room. This judge is, to put it delicately, an asshole, but that has little to do with the story other than for a humorous incident in the El Paso PD’s detective bureau.
From there we have more found feet, a body or two, and our heroes are off and chasing the bad guy’s shine wherever they can find it.
I enjoyed this book from several viewpoints; the analytical musings of Steps and Jimmy, the mental processes of being two very busy FBI agents who have loved ones left behind all too often, the emotional aspects of the job, and how to keep Steps’ abilities a secret from all concerned.
If you enjoy the chase, the determination of facts from other facts, the banter between two grown men, cop shop humor, you should enjoy this. This is not a high action novel though there certainly is plenty of that, but it’s the story of two men working together to bring an end to a crime spree. If that would suit your taste, yes, indeed you will enjoy it. I certainly did.
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