She’s the person you hire when you need something fixed—permanently. With a strict set of criteria, she evaluates every request and chooses only a few. No more than one job per country, per year. She will only step in if it’s clear that justice will not be served any other way. Her jobs are completed with skill and precision, and never result in inquiry or police investigation. The Fixer is invisible—and quite deadly. . . .
In the office of a clinical psychologist in Olympia, Washington, a beautiful young woman is in terrible emotional pain. She puts up walls, tells lies, and seems to speak in riddles, but the doctor is determined to help her heal, despite the fact that she claims to have hurt many people. As their sessions escalate, the psychologist feels compelled to reach out to the police . . . but it might be too late.
In Seattle, a detective gets a call from his son. A dedicated journalist, he wants his father’s expertise as he looks into a suspicious death. Together they follow the trail of leads toward a stone-cold hired killer—only to find that death has been closer than either could have imagined.
The Fixer is my first pure crime book read in 2014 and it was a good one to start the year with. T.E. Woods’ debut novel offers a smooth reading experience with sympathetic protagonists and a very mysterious antagonist. Woods wrong-footed me several times with some elegant plotting and effortless misdirection, which made reaching the end of the novel and the final resolution of the mystery even more rewarding.
The book was really well-plotted and structured, offering the reader several clues in the form of Chekov’s guns, which were then fired in an unexpected way. The slow interweaving of seemingly disparate storylines and the way they fit together was very well done and I enjoyed trying to figure out The Fixer’s identity and her nefarious employer’s motives and identity. Woods offers us plenty of options in the form of some very intriguing characters in the person of Savannah, Deirdre Thornton, Jerry Childress, and Bradley Wells and several others. The four named though were really intriguing, Savannah because she’s so clearly unbalanced and very mysterious and the latter three due to the academic politicking they engage in and the absolutely venal nature of their character and motivations.
Mort and Lydia are wonderful protagonists. Lydia is very complicated and I liked how we learned more about her layer by layer. Mort is just lovely. His love for his late wife is wonderful. What I liked was that it was such a balanced and healthy way of dealing with having your character being widowed; Mort doesn’t just move on and sort of compartmentalise his wife away and on the other extreme he doesn’t go into an epic, almost obsessive veneration of that which he has lost. Instead his love and sadness for Edie is present in the book – I especially liked the scene where Mort walks into the ICU to interview a witness and suddenly his grief sharpens because of the memories the place evokes – but it doesn’t incapacitate him.
I really liked the fact that there isn’t a romance or bromance in this book. Instead there is the story of a father finding a daughter figure to fill the hole in his heart left by his own disappeared child and a daughter finding a trustworthy father figure for the first time in her life. This really spoke to me and the scenes featuring Lydia and Mort together just jumped of the page and were really strong. It did make me wonder about Mort’s real daughter Allie though and whether we’ll find out what happened to her.
There were some things that bothered me a lot and they both had to do with Jimmy De Villa, chief of Forensics and Mort’s co-worker. First of all there is Jimmy’s dog, Bruiser. While I love the mutt and the way his reactions signalled the mood of a scene, I just couldn’t wrap my head around a forensic investigator taking his dog along to crime scenes and suspect interviews. I mean the dangers of crime scene contamination alone would seem prohibitive. And it’s only presented as a personal quirk; there is no good reason for Bruiser’s presence given other than Jimmy’s idiosyncrasy. The other thing that bugged me was Jimmy’s thing for one of the female forensic technician Micki Petty. The way he reacts around her, with teasing and innuendo felt somewhat creepy to me and it’s so easy to have that crossover into harassment territory, especially as Micki never encourages it or seems to reciprocate. Yet, while Mort clearly disapproves, there isn’t really any fall-out for Jimmy on this.
But beyond those two elements I really enjoyed The Fixer. It was a smooth, pleasant read and an exciting one to boot. If you enjoy character-driven crime novels, then The Fixer might well be one you’d enjoy and I’d recommend crime lovers give it a try. As for myself, I’m looking forward to reading more of Mort’s adventures and seeing what else Woods has in store for both him and her readers.
Monday, January 27th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, January 27th: No More Grumpy Bookseller – Author Guest Post & Giveaway
Tuesday, January 28th: The Best Books Ever
Wednesday, January 29th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, February 4th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Tuesday, February 4th: Booksellers Without Borders
Wednesday, February 5th: Mockingbird Hill Cottage
Thursday, February 6th: She Treads Softly
Monday, February 10th: Books in the Burbs
Tuesday, February 11th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Wednesday, February 12th: A Fantastical Librarian
Wednesday, February 12th: Queen of All She Reads
Thursday, February 13th: The Written World
Monday, February 17th: Booksie’s Blog
Tuesday, February 18th: Mystery Playground
Wednesday, February 19th: Kahakai Kitchen
Thursday, February 20th: The Reader’s Hollow
Friday, February 21st: From the TBR Pile
Monday, February 24th: The Novel Life
Wednesday, February 26th: Luxury Reading