The Ransom: A Nicole Graves Mystery (Nicole Graves Mysteries Book 4) by Nancy Boyarsky takes us inside the world of private detective, Nicole Graves. Nicole’s boss gives her the task of researching the past of a kidnap victim, for one of the Agency’s more wealthy and important clients, the father-in-law of the victim, whose son was accidentally killed during the botched snatch. This is not the sort of work Nicole prefers; she would rather leave this sort of thing up to the police but the reality is when a major client asks for your help, the Agency needs to give it. Nicole, the surprised recipient of a two-million plus, unwanted and unexpected inheritance doesn’t realise that she is now in the direct cross-hairs of the kidnappers. It all becomes very personal, for Nicole, when her beloved younger sister Stephanie is kidnapped and her sister’s fiancée David badly injured, in order to seek a ransom payout from Nicole. She is torn between allowing the police to do their job, in the form of the rather dishy detective Arnault, or trying to negotiate the ransom payment and her sister’s safe release, direct with the kidnappers, especially when she realizes all the kidnappings may be linked and she may have a handle on the perpetrators.
Author Nancy Boyarsky has given us the fourth iteration of her Nicole Graves Mysteries series, with The Ransom: A Nicole Graves Mystery. It is not important to have read any of the previous books to enjoy this story (I haven’t). It stands alone as a case on its own, as I presume they all do. What the author has given us is nothing, new, startling, revelatory or indeed great literary prose – it is what it is; a straightforward crime mystery story but it is definitely one of the better offerings, of the ilk, that I have read. I always love a strong female lead, especially one who is performing in an area usually reserved for the macho male character. Nicole is a strong, independent woman who has carved out a successful career for herself in the rough and tumble world of the private dick. What I love, though, is that despite the pain and ugliness she must encounter regularly, she maintains her empathy, her humanity, and her ability to emote. She’s not afraid to allow her emotions to show and that gives her, as a character, a real balance. As a single woman, there is always the opportunity for romance and I was pleased the author left that opportunity open for Nicole, in the future. The plot and development of this book was clearly well thought out and took the reader on a number of twists and turns that placed various of the main characters in serious danger at times, which allowed the reader to root for the characters. I also liked the unusual background for Detective Arnault, for a police officer, which gave him much more colour, interest, and potential for future adventures. I can see a really close working (and personal) relationship developing between these two in the future. If crime mystery is your thing, this is one series you want to get your hands on and if it’s not your thing, well, you’ll love the read anyway. It’s well written and edited and I highly recommend it.