Get Blog Posts Via Email

View RSS Feed


Book Author: D. A. Keeley

BITTER CROSSING by D. A. Keeley: Book Review

There must be something wonderful in the state of Maine to product such amazing mystery authors.  I’ve blogged about books written by Tess Gerritsen, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Paul Doiron, and Gerry Boyle, and now I’m adding D. A. Keeley to my list.

Bitter Crossing introduces Peyton Cote, a U.S. Border Patrol agent, recently back from her posting in Texas to her home state of Maine.  Although there is more action in El Paso than in tiny Garrett, it doesn’t take long after Peyton’s return for things to start happening in this part of Aroostook County, across from New Brunswick, Canada.  She receives a tip that a major shipment of marijuana is being dropped in an open area in the forest, and when she goes there she sees a bundle in the middle of the field.  But when she opens the package, there’s a baby girl inside, barely alive.

Peyton requested the transfer to her hometown mainly for personal reasons.  She wants her seven-year-old son to have more contact with his father, although she has doubts about Jeff’s commitment to Tommy.  Her ex is great at promises to Tommy, promises he rarely keeps.  Jeff would like to reconcile with Peyton, and she’s torn between wanting to have as little as possible to do with him and feeling that their son needs his father in his life.

Life isn’t easy in this northern part of Maine, and times are bad financially.  Years of hard work in the potato fields, once the mainstay of Aroostook County, can be gone in a flash when a blight decimates the harvest.  It’s no wonder that some members of Peyton’s generation look for easier ways to make money, including buying and selling drugs.

Peyton is using Kenny Radke, a former schoolmate, as a snitch.  Under a not-so-subtle threat of reporting to his parole officer that she found drugs in his car, she gets Kenny to tell her about the drug drop.  But now that there were no drugs found in the forest, only the infant whose presence doesn’t come under Border Patrol jurisdiction, an angry Peyton talks to Kenny again.  This time she’s trying to find out where Kenny’s tip came from, and he reluctantly gives her the scant information he has about a tall white guy he played poker with and the names of two locals who were at the game.

Peyton is also trying to help her younger sister, Elise, with her marital issues.  Elise got married young to her college professor, a man who was later convicted of two drug-related felonies.  He’s gone from job to job, with infidelities along the way, and now Elise is keeping her own secret from Peyton. 

Bitter Crossing is a terrific novel, filled both with an exciting plot and believable characters.  Peyton Cote is a strong woman, devoted to her family and her job.  The problem is, sometimes it seems almost impossible to balance the two.  This is a mystery that will keep you reading until the last page.

You can read more about D. A. Kelley at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.