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Depths of Deceit (Jamie Rush Mystery, #2) by Laura Oles 

With its engaging characters and fast-moving plot, DEPTHS OF DECEIT is an excellent follow-up to the series’ debut. 

When Renata, a waitress at their favorite eatery, Taqueria San Juan, tells Cookie and Jamie that her sister, Leah, has gone missing, the two investigators want to help find her. And even though clients have been slow in paying their bills lately, they offer to do it pro bono. Both feel that family is more important than money and give the case their full attention, although initial indications point to Leah having lit out by her own choice. But when Leah’s car shows up in the possession of a senior citizen who frequents Erin Clay’s entertainment center who explains that Leah asked her to hide the vehicle for her, they realize the girl is involved in something far more dangerous than just trying to escape her big sister’s scrutiny. 

Depths of Deceit is the second book in author Laura Oles’s Jamie Rush Mystery series, and already I feel like these characters are old friends. Even with her odd childhood and struggle to break away from her con artist parents, Jamie is a pretty well-adjusted and normal woman working in an unusual business. With his more traditional upbringing and extended family, her partner, Cookie, is a great guy, a good friend, and a perfect partner in their joint business. Their friends Erin, Marty, and Riley are likable and engaging people. The introduction of the smug, self-satisfied yet somehow charming Alastair Finn adds an interesting bit of tension to both Jamie’s and Cookie’s lives. Fun characters also abound when they visit Erin’s senior community center. 

The author has created a delightful setting on the Texas Gulf Coast in the fictional Port Alene. The Corpus Christi area has been an annual destination for me for over 30 years, so I enjoyed trying to match up the disguised locations with the actual ones. Descriptions are so well done that I felt like I was there, even for the cold snap the characters were initially experiencing. 

The story may lean toward the cozy end of the mystery spectrum, but it definitely has its grittier moments. The plot takes some exciting and unexpected twists and turns, and I honestly didn’t want to put this book down until the final page had been read. The setting continues to be a very moody and atmospheric version of what is typically a sunny and touristy beach destination. The action takes us to some darker locations that made my skin crawl. I enjoyed the unusual backstory for the missing sister and the dangerous men with whom she had become involved. The subplot of Jamie’s parents and her younger sister was emotional, and I felt for both her and Grace. 

With very engaging characters and a fast-moving and compelling plot, this is an excellent follow-up to the first book in the series, DAUGHTERS OF BAD MEN. I recommend DEPTHS OF DECEIT to readers of mystery fiction, especially those who like strong female protagonists, bulldogs, and the Texas Gulf Coast. 

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.

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