“Taking the Highway” – by M. H. Mead

Cover ImageAndre LaCroix moonlights as a fourth. All other times, he’s a Detroit cop. When someone starts to kill fourths, Andre pushes to be involved – and what follows is a race to find those responsible before Detroit is brought to its knees.

This is actually the third book I’ve read and reviewed for these authors, M. H. Mead being a nom de plume for a writing duo: Fate’s mirror in November 2011 (Review) and The Caline Conspiracy in July 2012 (Review). Obviously, something appeals in the writing because here I go again. I really liked Taking the Highway. A small sidebar in Fate’s Mirror has been fleshed out into a fascinating and exciting story.

In a world where car pooling is a necessity, one can earn a secondary income being a fourth – the extra passenger required to meet the strict car pooling laws for highway travel. It’s a competitive market and fourths are well dressed and well adjusted, a pleasure to have in your car. Thus fourths have a favourable impact on the city itself. So who would want to start killing them? I was drawn into this story very quickly, not just because the idea itself is innovative, but because, as usual, the authors write smoothly with likeable characters, witty dialogue that doesn’t become overbearing and a mystery that unravels at a pleasing pace. Additionally, the novel consists of sub-plots in the personal lives of the main characters which add interest without becoming distracting side quests.

I loved the Andre LaCroix character. He was a cool customer on the outside, but had enough personal issues churning around on the inside to keep him interesting throughout the story. He also forms the centre of the plot with everything branching out from him: his relationship with his brother and his nephew, his rivalry and dark past with a key member of his task force, his professional relationship with a suburban cop, even his moonlighting job as a fourth. Secrets are revealed, different parts of his life collide and he is dragged into the wreckage and hopefully back out again.

The story doesn’t always hang together perfectly. As the action heats up, I felt some of the logic slip just a little. Not all motivations were entirely clear to me even after the scheduled revelation. But it was hard to even notice while experiencing the adrenalin-fuelled finale. The last part of this book was like a blockbuster and I’m surprised my face wasn’t blue by the end from holding my breath.

Although this novel occurs in the same near-future as Fate’s Mirror and The Caline Conspiracy, each book quite happily exists as a standalone story and no particular reading order is required. After reading one, however, I believe it will be difficult to resist the others.

This dynamic writing duo always seems to come up with the goods and Taking the Highway is no exception. Good ideas, mystery, human interest, a romance that didn’t make me nauseous and action, action, action! They have me revving my engine for their next novel.

Rating: 4.5/5

Price at the time of review: $4.59 US

Available: Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Diesel, iTunes

Author site: http://www.yangandcampion.com/
GoodReads page: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16181736-taking-the-highway

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