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Synopsis: With a classical series sold and a portrait commissioned, Cherry Tucker’s art career is in Georgia overdrive. But when the sheriff asks Cherry to draw a composite sketch of a hijacker, her life takes a hairpin as the composite leads to a related murder, her local card-sharking buddy Max Avtaikin becomes bear bait and her nemesis labels the classical series “pervert art.”
Cherry’s jamming gears between trailer parks, Atlanta mansions, and trucker bars searching for the hijacker who left a widow and orphan destitute. While she seeks to help the misfortunate and save her local reputation, Cherry’s hammer down attitude has her facing the headlights of an oncoming killer.
Larissa Reinhart’s Hijack in Abstract is the third book in her Cherry Tucker series. If you haven’t read the first two books in the series, it is possible to delve right in; however, Reinhart addresses a few situations that occurred in previous books. If you don’t mind a few spoilers and backtracking, then proceed. Reinhart does a great job explaining relationships and situations without overwhelming new and established readers.
When Cherry Tucker draws a composite sketch of a hijacker, she has no idea the secrets she’s about to uncover. She wants to assist in the investigation, but her involvement is put on hold when a local nemesis goes out of her way to besmirch Cherry’s reputation by labeling her art as perversion. Seeking assistance from a local Russian art collector, Cherry thinks her problems will be solved. But when Cherry receives a lucrative portrait commission, she quickly finds out there’s more to the hijacking case than meets the eye. Will Cherry be able to find the hijacker before it’s too late or will she find herself in front an angry mob demanding she move from Halo?
It’s difficult at times for readers to come into an established series because character development occurred in the first book. By the time we get to the third, the author has a pretty good grasp of the characters and won’t go into detail regarding who they are. Reinhart does a good job introducing us to established characters and at no point did I feel lost trying to figure them out. I was surprised at how much I liked Cherry! I want to hang out with her, even though she’d look down on me when she finds out I’m the type who sees an art exhibit in less than ten minutes. We have a wide cast of secondary characters who play a vital role. There’s Luke, Cherry’s ex-boyfriend who is also a Deputy in the Sheriff’s department. He reluctantly allows Cherry to investigate and he doesn’t realize how helpful she can be with regards to obtaining information. One character that stood out was the Russian, Max. He really surprised me and I’m not going to go into detail with his background because it ruins the story. The one character I really liked? Cherry’s ex-husband, Todd! He makes me laugh and even though I’m not Team Todd, I’d love for him to find his own happiness. In the background wreaking havoc is Shawna and she really goes out of her way to make Cherry’s life uncomfortable. If you’ve ever lived in a small town, you’ll easily associate with Reinhart’s characters.
Narration is first person and even though I’m not a big fan of this type of point of view, I was very comfortable with Cherry as a narrator. She’s engaging and I really enjoyed getting to know everyone in Halo from her perspective. The feud between Cherry and Shawna reminded me a bit of old westerns and the big showdown scenes. I could hear The Trio from The Good, The Bad And the Ugly playing in the background when these two were near each other. I was angry on behalf of Cherry when Luke refused to get involved in the Shawna feud. I understand Shawna is related to his family and no one wants problems, but all Cherry was asking for was a little help in trying to figure out what Shawna’s deal was. We have a potential love triangle between Cherry, Todd, and Luke. I also get the feeling some readers want a Max and Cherry romance. I’m still not sure where my loyalty lies, but if I had to go based on Hijack alone, I’d say Luke!
As for the overall mystery, I thought this was going to be your basic formulaic mystery, but Reinhart took me on a fun rollercoaster ride. Everyone is a suspect and just when you think you have things figured out, you’re forced to reevaluate your theory and modify your suspect list. I haven’t had this much fun trying to solve a mystery in a while and it sure beats playing a game of Clue any day!
This was my first Cherry Tucker book despite having Portrait of a Dead Guy (I just haven’t had a chance to start it) and it won’t be my last. If you’re a fan of cozy mysteries, I recommend Larissa Reinhart’s Hijack in Abstract. I’m looking forward to reading the first two in the series and can’t wait to spend more time with Cherry.