Fourth Estate, by Dan Alatorre [Review]

“It’s a tossed taco salad of thrills and intrigue arranged by master chef Dan Alatorre.”

A killer in an obvious disguise takes out the owners of two sensationalistic fringe internet news outlets, along with a secretary in a law firm and a judge – all in the same day. This sets off alarm bells for the Tampa police, including homicide detectives Sergio Martin and Carly Sanderson. Identifying the killer and stopping him before he continues his spree is the immediate priority – and the entire story takes place during one heart-stopping day. Around the frantic investigation, Sergio and Carly have multiple personal crises distracting them, including the status of their very personal romantic involvement. It’s a tossed taco salad of thrills and intrigue arranged by master chef Dan Alatorre.

This author specializes in fast-paced stories and really knows how to weave together the introspection and relationship issues with the pulse-pounding action and suspense scenes. It’s a story you’ll want to play hooky from work to finish reading. When you get to the dramatic final scenes, don’t even think about putting it down!

The click-hungry head of the gossip-mongering internet equivalent of the National Inquirer is a caricature of everything that’s wrong with modern media. The fact that two of his similarly smarmy competitors have been murdered and that he is the likely next target only makes him more obsessed with how many hits his live stream will get. Similarly, the Tampa police lieutenant to whom Sergio and Carly report is a villain from the first page – a high-ranking police official focused on his own ambition and somehow maniacally bent on ruining Sergio. There isn’t much ambiguity here between the good guys and the bad guys, but the story rockets forward so quickly that there is no time for deep reflection about the social commentary or the literary significance of the characters. Add in Carly being up for a promotion to sergeant, where she will need to make decisions that could adversely affect Sergio, and there is more than enough subplot go glue together this frantic fictional day.

Readers who are already committed to the Sergio/Carly relationship will find this story gripping and emotionally compelling. New readers will be drawn immediately into their relationship and should want to go back and see how they got to this point. I know I am now anxiously awaiting the next story to see where they go from here.

Highly recommended for all fans of thrillers and police procedurals.

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