"Voodoo Ridge" (The Permanent Press), by David Freed
For once, Cordell Logan, ex-military assassin turned flight instructor, is happy. After years of trying, he finally has reconciled with his beautiful ex-wife Savannah, and together they are flying to Lake Tahoe to retie the knot.
But as Logan pilots his plane over the spectacular Sierra Nevada, he spots something metal protruding from a snowbank in a remote mountain canyon. It turns out to be the wreckage of a small plane that disappeared during a snowstorm nearly 60 years ago.
When Logan alerts local authorities, and then guides them overland to the spot, they discover that someone has only recently beaten them to it and made off with the plane's mysterious cargo.
As he continues to work with authorities to figure out what was stolen, and who stole it, Savannah is kidnapped. Logan soon finds himself faced with an impossible choice: He can either save Savannah or stop the plane's potentially lethal cargo from falling into the hands of terrorists. There's little chance he will be able to do both.
The first two novels in Freed's Cordell Logan series were peppered with humor as we watched the protagonist struggle to reconcile his propensity for violence with his newfound Buddhist philosophy. The threat to Savannah leaves less room for humor in "Voodoo Ridge," although Logan's encounters with his fiercely independent cat and his quirky landlady, Mrs. Schmulowitz, provide occasional moments of comic relief.
But the tension-packed plot and the fine prose, including well-drawn characters and vivid portraits of the natural landscape, are just what fans have come to expect from this author.
Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Award, is the author of three crime novels including "Providence Rag."
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