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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Devil You Know

Detective Margaret Nolan Series #3

ISBN: 9781666623000

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Publication Date: 01/17/2023

Format: Audiobook & e-book

My Rating: 4 Stars (ARC)

Darkness is nothing new to LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan, but in P.J. Tracy’s The Devil You Know, even she isn’t prepared for the scandalous deception of deadly proportions that shakes the very foundation of Hollywood and its untouchables…and leaves her entangled in its rotten core.

Los Angeles has many faces: the real LA where regular people live and work, the degenerate underbelly of any big city, and the rarefied world of wealth, power, and celebrity. LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan’s latest case plunges her into this insular realm of privilege and gives her a glimpse of the decay behind the glitter.

Beloved actor Evan Hobbes is found in the rubble of a Malibu rockslide, a day after a fake video ruins his career. It’s unclear to Nolan if it’s an accident, a suicide, or a murder, and things get murkier as the investigation expands to his luminary friends and colleagues. Meanwhile, Hobbes’s agent is dealing with damage control, his psychotic boss, and a woman he’s scorned.

“Tracy seems to have found her literary sweet spot.”

―Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

“Riveting. . . Tracy’s characters are richly developed and seriously human, each struggling with how to overcome their dangerous dark pasts.”

― Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Tracy draws each scene with the skill of a brilliant artist and hits every note like a master maestro.”

―Jon Land, Providence Sunday Journal

“Peak-excitement…Tracy’s plots are growing more intricate and her characters more layered.” ―Twin Cities Pioneer Press

“Something for everyone, and then some.”

―Kirkus Reviews

“This riveting series launch from bestseller Tracy (the Monkeewrench series) introduces LAPD Det. Maggie Nolan, as well as Sam Easton, an Army veteran who has recently returned from Afghanistan with PTSD…The suspense rises as the plot takes some unexpected twists and turns. Readers will want to see more of Maggie, a complicated woman determined to succeed in a profession dominated by men, and the troubled Sam, who does his best to do the right thing."

—Publishers Weekly

My Review

P. J. Tracy returns with the third installment in the Detective Margaret Nolan series with THE DEVIL YOU KNOW —where the author explores the underbelly of the Los Angeles area in her latest cop procedural with its celebrities, power, wealth, glitz, and glamour. Good versus evil.

LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan's latest case takes her to Hollywood to investigate the death of a well-known privileged actor Evan Hobbes.

A Disney actor is “filmed” in a compromising video, but it would appear that it’s a deep fake. Then before anything can be done, his dead body is found in a landslide.

Hobbes is found dead amidst the debris and rubble of a rock slide in Malibu after a fake video (having sex with a minor) was released to ruin his career and reputation. Hobbes had been among hundreds of well-heeled guests celebrating at a lavish party on the Baum estate.

Was it an accident, suicide, or murder?

The investigation expands to Evan's friends, family, and coworkers as police follow the baffling clues in the case. Those who attended parties and were closely associated were many.

Maggie Nolan is used to working cases for not only the rich and glitzy actors but the homeless and destitute.

Nolan and Detective Crawford find connections to the wealthy and privileged in LA, Hollywood, and Santa Barbara, whose lives intersect and intertwine in shocking ways.

(I love Santa Barbara and Ojai and enjoyed my extended visit there- beautiful!).

Meanwhile, Hobbes’ agent is dealing with damage control, his psychotic boss, and a woman he has scorned.

When his powerful brother-in-law is murdered, he and Nolan both find themselves entangled in a scandalous deception of deadly proportion that shakes the very foundation of Hollywood’s rich and famous.

Tracy keeps the reader guessing in this twisty fast-paced, complex cop procedural with a large cast of characters (you will need to keep a scorecard) as the bodies pile up. An intriguing murder whodunit mystery with unexpected twists for a satisfying conclusion.

Nolan is a likable, intelligent, strong, and capable female protagonist, and would like to have heard more from her and her partner and their personal lives.

Her descriptions of the area are vivid and will draw you in. Short chapters keep the action moving and there is a storyline dealing with Sam (army vet and a letter) —PTSD, grief, and the loss of a family member, which adds a personal balance to the crime investigation. He is a friend of the detective, a troubled Afghan War vet who suffers from PTSD.

I also enjoyed the Author's Note regarding her inspiration, where she drew from her family (grandfather/cousin) and PTSD in relation to Sam Easton's character.

This book is part of the Detective Margaret Nolan Series—Desolation Canyon and Deep into the Dark. My first book in the series. It can be read as a standalone. However, I plan on picking up the audiobooks to listen to the previous ones in the series. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I had read the previous two books.

Thanks to #MinatourBooks and #NetGalley for a gifted e-book ARC.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: Jan 17, 2023

My Rating: 4 Stars

About the Author

P. J. Tracy is the pseudonym of Traci Lambrecht, bestselling and award winning author of the Monkeewrench series. Lambrecht and her mother, P. J., wrote eight novels together as P. J. Tracy before P. J. passed away in 2016. Lambrecht has since continued the Monkeewrench series solo. She spent most of her childhood painting and showing Arabian horses, and graduated with a Russian Studies major from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, where she also studied voice. She now lives outside Minneapolis. WEBSITE

Who is PJ Tracy?

PJ Tracy is the pseudonym of the mother-daughter writing duo P.J. and Traci Lambrecht, winners of the Anthony, Barry, Gumshoe, and Minnesota Book Awards. Their cyberthriller “Monkeewrench” series (Monkeewrench, Live Bait, Dead Run, Snow Blind, Shoot to Thrill, Off the Grid, The Sixth Idea, and Nothing Stays Buried) were national and international bestsellers. After PJ’s passing in 2016, Traci wrote two more books in the Monkeewrench series (The Guilty Dead and Ice Cold Heart), and began the Margaret Nolan Detective series, set in Los Angeles, where she lived for many years. Deep into the Dark and Desolation Canyon were lauded by critics, and the third book, The Devil You Know, will be released in January 2023. She now resides in Minnesota and continues to write about murder and mayhem.

P.J. Lambrecht

P.J. Lambrecht always loved to tell people she was a college dropout and had no qualifications for being a writer except for a penchant for lying. She had her first short story published in The Saturday Evening Post when Traci was eight, still mercifully oblivious to her mother’s plans to eventually trick her into creating a family business.

Traci Lambrecht

Traci Lambrecht spent most of her childhood riding and showing horses. She graduated with a Russian Studies major from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, where she also studied voice. Her aspirations of becoming a spy were dashed when the Cold War ended, so she began writing to finance her annoying habits of travel and singing in rock bands. Much to her mother’s relief, she finally realized that the written word was her true calling. Together, they had a long, prolific career writing together in many genres until PJ’s passing in December 2016. Traci continues to write like a maniac, with PJ’s spirit sitting on her shoulder, cracking wise.







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