I worked in a mystery bookstore for ten years. I started during a boom time when female authors were writing female protagonists like never before and reveled in that fact. Though I’m not sure why, one author that somehow always remained in the TBR category was Leslie Glass.
Glass’s series protagonist is April Woo, a Chinese-American NYPD detective. She lives with her opinionated mother Sai Yuan Woo, better known as Skinny Dragon, and is dating Mexican-American homicide detective Mike Sanchez. In Tracking Time April is asked by an old friend, Dr. Jason Frank, to look into the disappearance of a young psychiatrist.
Maslow Atkins is a psychiatrist still in training and Jason is alarmed when he doesn’t show up for an appointment. Though Maslow’s disappearance falls under another precinct’s jurisdiction, April agrees to look into the matter for her friend. The investigation is hampered by her lieutenant who’d like nothing better then to see her fail. But her instincts tell her that Maslow is still alive and she’s working against the clock in the hopes of finding him in time. The case becomes a murder investigation when the only witness to what might have happened to Maslow is found murdered in the park.
As in the new television series 24, time is the true enemy in this novel. Ms. Glass succeeds admirably at making the reader feel the pressure of time passing and danger growing. What’s happened to Maslow is fairly evident to the reader, but this in no way lessens the suspense. The clock is ticking on April’s investigation and we are as aware of this as she is. As the events leading to Maslow’s disappearance become clearer to April she finds her personal situation getting ever murkier.
The addition of personal difficulties for April could have been an unwanted distraction from a tense story, but it works in the book’s favor. What does become a distraction is the depiction of the people who surround the suspects. The suspects, as becomes clear early on, are disaffected teenagers. They’re drawn realistically as kids who have no purpose or guidance and are looking for thrills. Problem is, the people who’ve raised them are all egregiously bad. Outside of Jason and his wife, there isn’t one sympathetic parental figure in the book – up to and including Maslow’s own family.
Ms. Glass is attempting to explore the nature of teen violence and she succeeds to a point. These kids are at loose ends in a world that offers them everything. Okay. But the kids we’ve seen on the news who’ve resorted to incredible violence don’t all come from the depths of dysfunction. Some come from pretty ordinary homes and the author is taking the easy route when she draws these families as just-this-short of abusive.
The growing suspense of the disappearance and murder is poorly served by these caricatures. Early on Tracking Time was tracking as a DIK, but as the dysfunctional family count rose, my interest decreased. I am glad I’ve finally read a Leslie Glass and I’ll definitely be reading more. I just hope the next will be the unqualified success I think this author can offer.