Cover Image: Desolation Canyon

Desolation Canyon

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Member Reviews

An interesting read, not an absolute favorite, was not an “I can’t put this down” but drawn in enough to finish. I typically enjoy all from this underrated author, so will probably reread this one later and have an even more impressed opinion. Thanks to the publisher and netgalley for this ARC opportunity!
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This is the 2nd in P. J. Tracy's mystery starring LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan and damaged veteran Sam Easton.

This time, they're up against multiple murders, Russian mafia money laundering, baby trafficking, and a well armed cult, Children of the Desert.

They prevail as expected but it's a thrilling ride to get there, and there's progress on the romantic front for both leads as well.

Can't wait for #3!
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The second in the series. A mother and her daughter are trying to get away from a man that is running a religious resort. He is running a scam and has many men under is thumb. Margaret Nolan and her partner are on the case.
Great mystery by a great author.
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If you find yourself in the mood for a good mystery, pick up Desolation Canyon by P.J. Tracy (might as well ad Deep into the Dark, which is book one of the New Detective Margaret Nolan series). I found the novel immediately plunged me into characters with well developed back stories and a depth that pleased me. Margaret Nolan is the detective and she is out having drinks with a friend when they discover a body.

Three different mysteries interwoven with the creativity and wonder from a master storyteller. P.J. Tracy is now one of my favorite authors!

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press and author P.J. Tracy for this digital review copy for me to read and enjoy! As always my opinions are voluntary!
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Desolation Canyon by PJ Tracy is the second book in the series featuring Detective Margaret Nolan. 
I really enjoyed the character development of Margaret. We get to learn more about her past and family and what makes her the way she is. The mystery and murder in this book were interesting and well written. I feel like this is going to be a very good series to keep up with over the years. If you have not read the first book, I recommend that you read it before you read this one. Thank you to Net Galley and the publisher for the advancedcopy this book. All opinions are my own.
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I never read the first book in the series, so I don't have anything to compare this book or characters to in that sense. It was kind of slow at the beginning, but it got better towards the middle of the book. 

So Margaret is an LAPD Detective who has experienced the loss of her brother in the war in Afghanistan and her best friend to cancer. Sam  was severely wounded in said war and they decide to work together when a body is discovered in Swan Lake on the property of a hotel. The victim is an attorney, and when his wife is also found dead, things get crazy. Their investigation leads them to Death Valley and a mysterious organization (cult?). Sam helps her find out what is really going on as the death count rises and the mystery deepens. 

It was an ok book. Maybe if I would have read the first one I would have liked Margaret more or had a deeper connection with her. It's not as fast paced as the synopsis made it out to be which was disappointing. Overall not a horrible book, but I don't think I personally will be reading anymore in the series.
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Detective Margaret Nolan is struggling as is her family. Margarets struggles are two fold, a brother who died and she recently had to kill someone in the line of duty. Her mom has checked out, but knows she needs help. She hopes to find that help at a retreat in the desert. 

Sam Easton was once in the military in Afghanistan and suffers from PTSD. He has been in therapy for this and seems to be getting better. He is helping his friend Lenny. Lenny is helping a mom and her daughter get away from an abusive relationship. 

Detective Nolan was at the Bel Air hotel having drinks with Remy ( her sometimes friend with benefits) when she discovers a body floating in the water. 

P.J. Tracy has an amazing way of weaving two storylines together until they intersect and the ending happens with a bang! There were twists and turns, and jaw dropping moments. And though I thought the first part of the book dragged a little, the last 2/3 of the book rocked! 3.5⭐ rounded up to 4⭐

Thank you to Netgalley,  Minotaur Books & P.J. Tracy for the eARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Sam Easton has been asked to help a friend who has his own trouble.  A mother and daughter were found in the desert.  They are trying to get away from a religious organization with a reputation of being “spectacular.”  It doesn’t make sense, if it’s that great.  LAPD Detective Nolan has a number of family issues.  Her parents offer no help with deal of the death of her brother.  She decides to accept a drink from a friend at a luxurious hotel.  When they go for a stroll on the grounds a body is found floating in the water.  It appears to be an accident but Nolan discovers it isn’t.  The searching for information on her case ends up working side by side with Sam on his “case.”  There appears to be a commonality and leads them to danger.

The novel is an excellent mystery.  The characters are well developed.  Several amazing disclosures are revealed that had me “holding my breath.”  It’s a novel that is much more than a mystery.
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I am a huge fan of the Monkeewrench books so when I saw this new series starting I was ecstatic! Somehow amid the pandemic and a new job, I totally missed book 1, Deep Into the Dark, when it came out in early 2021. Book 2 caught my eye when I was offered a review copy -- and I jumped right on it! Backed up and read book 1 first....then jumped into my early copy of Desolation Canyon.  About halfway through my digital ARC, I snagged a review copy of the audio book and started the story over. 

Loved it! This book keeps the action, suspense and gritty characters from the first book....and even bumps things up a notch. I like Margaret Nolan and Sam Easton as the main characters. Both have their flaws and issues from their past, but they are also both intelligent, driven and talented investigators. The only part of the plot that gave me pause was the Russian mafia angle. "The Russians are behind it'' angle has been used too much....for me, it always comes off as a bit melodramatic just because it's overused. BUT....saying that....I have to add that I still got sucked into the story and enjoyed this book immensely! 

I can't wait for the next book! Definitely a fan! 

The audio book version of this story is just shy of 8 hours long and is narrated by Abby Craden. She reads at a good pace, has a nice voice and does a great job of voice acting. Very enjoyable listen! 

**I voluntarily read a review copy from St Martins Press and listened to a review audio book from Macmillan Audio. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
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I am enjoying this series and I really liked this installment. Tracy can develop some extraordinary characters  and I like how Margaret and Sam are evolving. The plot was good and well written with some surprises.  I look forward to #3!
Many thanks to St. Martins Press and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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P.J. Tracy’s Desolation Canyon is complex, layered, and includes a variety of characters to track. Detective Margaret Nolan battles family tragedy, the challenge of taking a life in the line of duty, and a case that becomes significantly threatening. Desolation Canyon is an apt title for this grim journey into unimaginable crime. And Ms. Tracy’s storytelling skills take readers on a suspense-driven experience.
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Let me just state one overriding personal opinion up front: P.J. Tracy's Monkeewrench series, set in Minneapolis, is better than her newer Margaret Nolan series, set in Los Angeles.

Both series have a nice ensemble feel, although the magic of the Monkeewrench books was that a group of such quirky individuals could form such a cohesive group. Desolation Canyon, book 2 in the L.A. series, came closer to that feeling than the first Margaret Nolan story, but we aren't there yet.

It helped, though, that each of the recurring characters from book 1 is engaged in a mystery (Margaret finds a body at the Hotel Bel-Air; U.S. Army veteran Sam Easton joins a friend trying to help an abused woman and her child; and Detective Remy Beaudreau is searching for a sister who disappeared years ago) -- all of which turn out to be connected.

It might not score high on the plausibility scale, but it upped the ensemble quotient, since all the characters ended up working together. The best relationship is Nolan's with her cop partner Crawford.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an advance readers copy.
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A plot both suspenseful and new to the genre. P. J Tracy brought every character to life. Fully developed  and sympathetic. I was drawn in immediately. Can’t wait for book number three.
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I love a detective series. Especially a detective series that has a military plot. This is book two of P.J. TRACY series Detective Margaret Nolan. In book one, I was left wanting to know the detective more. Her books are a bit wordy for me. however, it still leaves you wanting to know what happens at the end.
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The second installment in the Detective Margaret Nolan investigative series. I was pleased to see the continued growth of Nolan and that Sam made it into the second book. A well thought out, interesting police procedural. I look forward to the next book in the series.

** I received an electronic ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review of this book.
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PTSD attacks for many reasons and in different incarnations; losing one’s friends in Afghanistan and coming home severely disfigured; losing a son in the same war, but the military not teaching you how to grieve; losing a brother, but also taking a life, growing up with everything except knowing how to help your sister. These stories and much more are movingly told, but without easy answers in Desolation Canyon .
In P.J. Tracy’s first book written without her writing partner and mother Deep Into the Dark , Detective Margaret Nolan and injured vet Sam Easton meet in the aftermath of some Los Angeles homicides. They meet as Margaret has just joined the legendary LA Robbery Homicide Division (RHD) and with Sam just not doesn’t feeling like a viable suspect to Margaret.
Again in this book there are two separate stories. Lenny, a desert rat who runs a small store and gas station in Death Valley, asks Sam being to help a young girl and her daughter trying to escape from an abusive relationship. Their abuser is the leader of what so many others in the LA region think of as a miracle facility, Children of the Desert, located in Desolation Canyon. This place will cure what ails ya; addiction, depression, PTSD etc. It is run by a messianic Russian, who also starts a successful prison program.
At about the same time, Nolan agrees to have a drink with her colleague, Remy Beaudreau at the Bel- Air Hotel. Walking through the stunning gardens, their almost date is interrupted by a gruesome discovery in Swan Lake.
With Children of the Desert being the centerpiece, Tracy skillfully knits Margaret, Sam and Remy’s far-flung stories together.
Family is represented in dissimilar ways, but is ever present. Margaret’s mom decides to deal with her grief over the death of her son, Margaret’s dad is finding solace in action, and Remy, even after eight years, still hires detectives to find his mentally ill sister. For Sam, it’s friends who serve as his family.
Tracy turns some of the most familiar police procedural tropes on their head. For instance, Margaret’s partner is supportive and treats Nolan as an equal needing a bit of seasoning in the glamorous world of the RHD. Also, romance is almost non-existent in the first two books. Maybe a slight wafting in the air; for these are serious crime novels. If it comes, hopefully the romance won’t be the obvious pairing.
As usual, the writing is beautiful, with so much of it being quotable; “But stoicism doesn’t change what’s happening inside, it only makes it impossible to come to terms with it.” Also “Tomorrow wasn’t guaranteed, so why waste a single, precious second of life?”
The motive for the central murder is a true head scratcher for Margaret, Remy and Al. The victim is such a bland, quiet man; but then the crime gets more interesting when other crimes are discovered. Reading of their meticulous investigation and their subsequent discoveries was fascinating. The ending is exciting, using the military skills of Sam, and Margaret’s father, and the tight detecting skills of Margaret, Remy and Al Crawford.
The final results not completely surprising, but other shocking discoveries along the way were just heartbreaking. Some folks are just Earls, or maybe Aliens?
Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC. The opinions are entirely my own.
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This is the second book in the Detective Margaret Nolan series and can be read as a stand-alone. P.J. Tracy offers a decent police-procedural with an intriguing premise and good characterization. However, the novel was moderately paced with inconsistent writing, making the management of multiple plot lines somewhat ambiguous. In addition, the storyline drew readers to Easton's character over that of Nolan's which is somewhat confusing as the novel namesake is Margaret Nolan. Overall, it was an okay read. Would recommend for those just getting into this genre.

Thank youth #NetGalley for the ARC of #DesolationCanyon which was read and reviewed voluntarily.

This review also appears on Amazon and Goodreads.
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I enjoyed the story and fast paced action, but was confused several times by the lack of backstory. I did not read the first book and did not realize it was a series.
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I unfortunately could not get into this book.  I see that it is the second in a series and possibly that is the issue. 
for me.   Thank you for the opportunity to read and review but this one just didn't work for me.   

I may try the audio version at some point but most likely not until I've read book # 1 of the series.
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Having enjoyed the Monkeewrench series by P. J. Tracy I was happy to see a new series but somehow was not paying attention - I missed the debut mystery. As soon as I finished this one I put Deep into the Dark on my TBR list. Having missed the first mystery didn't lessen my enjoyment of this one - it works fine as a stand alone.
Margaret is dealing with PTSD after a shooting in the line of duty. In a effort to find some relief she meets a friend at the Hotel Be-Air but it isn't long before things get complicated. While out for a stroll around the hotel's lake they come upon the body of a prominent local lawyer floating dead in the water. Suicide, natural causes or murder? Margaret has her own opinion and goes with it. At the same time Sam Easton is asked by his friend, Lenny, for help. Lenny helped a woman and her daughter escape from a cult. Soon enough the two cases start to merge and each chapter pulled me along with my saying just one more chapter, I can sleep later. The sign of a well written book. Both Margaret and Sam are well developed characters and I have promised myself I won't overlook any more books in this series.
My thanks to the publisher Minotaur and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
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