Book Review: Night Shift by Annelise Ryan
This is a cozy mystery centred on Hildy Schneider, a social worker who has taken on a new role in a joint program with police in her small town, going on ride-alongs to call outs and welfare checks. It’s actually a really interesting look at how the US police could change their modus operandi; I don’t know if it’s based on real pilot programs but I’m guessing that it could be and it makes a lot of logical sense. Hildy’s non-confrontational, problem-solving, sympathetic approach defuses situations before they can descend to violence.
Hildy herself is a character with an awful lot of baggage; raised in the foster care system she has some major personality quirks - OCD, food hoarding, a strained relationship with diet as a whole - that are nevertheless treated very matter-of-factly and in no way inhibit her being excellent at her job. Her own past (her mother’s murder is an unsolved cold case) means she has a genuine passion for helping victims get justice. When a call-out on one of her first ride-alongs with the police leads to Danny, a regular patient of hers suffering a schizophrenic break, Hildy’s efforts - and those of her canine companion, therapy dog Roscoe - calm the situation, but at a different scene later that night Hildy and her cop partner find a body in a scene that bears an uncanny resemblance to Danny’s babblings. The mystery only deepens when Hildy and Roscoe make an alarming discovery which could lead to a dangerous cell of domestic terrorists.
I really enjoyed this. Hildy’s a fascinating, raw character; honest almost to a fault, she doesn’t hide anything. Her relationship with her precocious pre-teen neighbour is really intriguing, as is her approach to her love life. She uses her wits and her life experience to adapt practically to her new job quickly. I’d have liked more Roscoe in the story (a common plaint of mine in cozy mysteries, sadly) but this was nonetheless an excellent read. I’ll give it five stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.