I am genuinely impressed by Andy Straka's A KILLING SKY, though, initially, I expected to be disappointed. After all, his debut novel, A WITNESS ABOVE, was simply stunning, and I doubted if he could follow up such a strong work (nominated for an Agatha) with an equally well-written work. His storyline also appeared to be lifted from the headlines (Clinton or Condit, take your choice)with the vanished daughter of a philandering politician taking center stage, and his series set-up bears a strong resemblance to the Spenser series with its literate PI, enforcer-type sidekick, sophisticated love interest, and a pet featured prominently in the story. Finally, having met Andy Straka at a recent mystery convention and having participated on one author panel with the man, I am quite impressed by Mr. Straka as a person and a writer. I didn't want to be disappointed by his sophomore effort so I delayed reading A KILLING SKY.
My mistake. In A KILLING SKY, Andy Straka pulls everything together perfecly. Falconry is Frank Pavlicek's trademark, and it is featured prominently. He clearly distinguishes Frank from Spenser, Toronto from Hawk, and Marcia from Susan. His development of Frank's daughter Nicole into a well-rounded sidekick-type character is also a unique touch.
The tale he tells, he tells well. The politico Drummond is no Clinton or even a Condit. The story takes several unexpected turns, and the writing is first-rate. A KILLING SKY is a giant step forward for this new mystery series. I am hoping for many more Frank Pavlicek mysteries.