cover image Phoenix Burning

Phoenix Burning

Isabella Maldonado. Midnight Ink, $15.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-7387-5102-3

In Maldonado’s breathless sequel to 2017’s Blood Echo, Phoenix, Ariz., homicide detective Veranda Cruz continues her obsessive crusade to take down the Villalobos cartel, a Mexican criminal dynasty led by its ruthless and sadistic patriarch, Hector “El Lobo” Villalobos. When the South Side Soldados, a South Phoenix gang with ties to a rival Colombian cartel, threaten to take a piece of Villalobos territory, a violent turf battle turns the city streets into a war zone. Leading a special task force with assistance from the FBI and agents brought up from Mexico, Veranda becomes the focus of media scrutiny when the cartel seems to always be one step ahead of her. Veranda wonders whether there might be a leak from within the department. Also, might Adolfo Villalobos, El Lobo’s underestimated son, be trying to prove his mettle as a possible successor to his father’s empire? What becomes clear is that Veranda’s family history and fate are inextricably tied to the Villalobos clan, and that the secrets of her own past could destroy everything, and everyone, she holds dear. Maldonado’s a writer to watch, and she showcases her own extensive law enforcement background in this tightly plotted police procedural. (Mar.)