RogerBW's Blog

Heart of the World, Linda Barnes 11 January 2023

2006 thriller, eleventh in the Carlotta Carlyle series (neo-noir private investigation). Carlotta's "little sister" Paolina is missing.

I keep asking for more Paolina in these books, and this time we get some, albeit mostly in cut-aways to what she's doing between chunks of Carlotta's investigation. I'm not in general a fan of criminal- or victim-viewpoint in mysteries, but this isn't really a mystery; there's some question over who the kidnappers are, but there's very little doubt that kidnapping has happened. More to the point, we get to learn more about how Paolina thinks.

On Carlotta's side, we get extended scenes in Miami, then in urban and rural Colombia. As Barnes has done before, there's a bit more research than the usual superficial everybody-knows stuff, and this Colombia is rather more complex than merely corrupt cops and drug dealers everywhere. The pre-invasion culture gets an interesting angle too.

But as always the story is anchored on the people, as well as on Carlotta's interior monologue as she conducts investigation – often fruitlessly, but the small procedural details work well. Later the narrative shifts to more of an action focus, which this series has mostly tended to avoid, but it's handled well.

Not, perhaps, one of the best books in the context of the series, but rather fine in its own right.

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Previous in series: Deep Pockets | Series: Carlotta Carlyle | Next in series: Lie Down With the Devil

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