Open Season by Maryann Miller is a police thriller and murder mystery that takes place in Texas. It is a timely read with all of today’s headlines because a large part of this fictional book focuses on racial tension between police officers and the citizens they are sworn to protect. The main characters are two female homicide detectives, Sarah Kingsly and Angel Johnson, who must start working together after Sarah loses her long-time police partner in a shoot-out that also involved the death of a young, African-American boy.
Sarah and Angel differ from each other in more ways than just skin color, as each grew up in very different households. Angel had two loving parents and a brother all under one roof, while Sarah came from a broken home. Their partnership seems like a set-up to bring good public relations to the police force, however the two women must try to ignore the media circus and find a way to work together. Their first case involves digging into a random murder at a shopping mall. The evidence at the crime scene is thin, and more victims could meet a similar fate if the detectives do not stop the killer. Drugs may be a motive, but the killing seems more personal in nature.
The murder case itself takes a bit of a back-seat in this book, as the development of Sarah and Angel’s working relationship is front and center throughout almost every chapter. A lot of pages are spent examining Sarah’s psyche and Angel’s loyalty to her job versus her family. Sarah has to find a way to move on from the tragic shooting that took the life of her partner, while Angel needs to accept that she is deserving of her promotion to detective despite her family’s mistrust of Sarah and the police in general.
The side characters added interesting elements within this author’s first book of what is set to be a series. Paul, the mysterious accountant, and Chad, the cocky cop, were unique romantic interests that will probably show up again later in the series. The finding of the killer was a bit rushed at the end, so die-hard mystery lovers may be a bit disappointed as this book is really more about police dynamics and the interaction of the two female detectives.
Open Season is well written and researched by Maryann Miller. The two female detectives are strong characters, and it was interesting to read about behind-the-scenes scenarios when it comes to working a case that has a lot of outside scrutiny from the press, community, and higher-ups in municipal government.