Red Queen

Being the smartest person in the room--maybe even one of the smartest in the world--doesn't shield one from grief or guilt, as Spanish author Juan Gómez-Jurado (The Traitor's Emblem) depicts in Red Queen, the first of a trilogy featuring genius Antonia Scott and detective Jon Gutiérrez. Antonia, called the Red Queen, is one of the few people with extreme analytical skills attached to an international, under-the-radar organization that targets "slippery violent" criminals, all without interference from bureaucracies, the police or publicity. Although her intelligence has saved many lives, Antonia is now a recluse, refusing any assignments and blaming herself for the shooting of her husband, Marcos, who has been in a three-year coma in a Madrid hospital where she spends each day. She reluctantly partners with disgraced police inspector Gutiérrez to investigate the murder of a teenage boy, which is linked to the kidnapping of Spanish bank executive Carla Ortiz, daughter of Spain's richest man. 

Gómez-Jurado maintains high tension with solid action as Red Queen, translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor, explores the kidnapping, the murder and the criminals responsible, while investing in character studies of Antonia and Jon. Antonia lives in a bare-bones apartment, having moved all her possessions into her husband's hospital room, cutting ties with everyone in her life except her grandmother in England, with whom she has video chats. Jon, who suffers homophobic coworkers, possesses an empathy that leads him to plant evidence on those who exploit the vulnerable. Readers of Red Queen will hotly anticipate its sequels, already published in Europe, in years to come. --Oline H. Cogdill, freelance reviewer

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