Wings of Mayhem
I told you before that Sue Phillips Coletta is a writer to watch, and Wings of Mayhem (Book One of the Mayhem Series,Crossroad Press, June 2016,), Sue Phillips Coletta’s second published novel, proves my point.
Coletta’s writing has matured, especially when she writes from the first-person female protagonist’s POV. Coletta’s language is as uniquely beautiful, as full and rich and supremely confident, as her characters, primarily when she writes about what she knows best: women and crime. Her prose seems to lack that same confidence, however, when she describes men, especially gay men. Maybe that’s only because she’s not as comfortable writing third-person narration as she is writing first person.
Shawnee Daniels, Shawn to her friend Nadine, is a cat-burglar. Shawnee’s day job is the chief cyber-crime consultant for the local police department. At night, Shawnee still burgles. But now she burgles only rich bastards who steal from the poor to teach them a lesson. Shawnee, like a female Robin Hood, steals back from those bastards and donates the proceeds, less her small commission, to the helpless victims of white collar crimes. It’s become Shawnee’s mission in life and her way of making up for her past misdeeds.
When Shawnee sneaks into Jack Delsin’s up-scale house in Bear-Clave Estates to steal $30,000 in cash and jewelry, she discovers Delsin is more than a simple retirement fund embezzler. Delsin is actually the brutal serial killer known as “The Creator” who butchers women and stretches their rib cages to look like angels’ wings. Because Shawnee finds this evidence, plus an antique wooden puzzle box, during a breaking and entering (B & E) escapade, she doesn’t dare tell police. Instead, she confides in BFF Nadine.
If anyone deserves to die, it’s Nadine. People that stupid and self-centered don’t deserve to live. Nadine may mean well, but she’s a disaster waiting to happen. Unfortunately, Nadine and Shawnee have been best-female friends since childhood. Shawnee’s long-term emotional commitment to Nadine turns Nadine into a target. Delsin strikes at Shawnee through Nadine. He slits Nadine’s throat, but Shawnees finds her in time and Nadine survives.
For one street-savvy chick, Shawnee lets her emotions too often get in the way of her better judgment. Instead of striking back hard at Delsin after Delsin kills one of Shawnee’s beloved cats, Shawnee acts like a nervous wreck. She’s conflicted about her relationship with homicide cop Levaughn Samuels. If Shawnee’s honest with Levaughn, he’ll have to arrest her for burglary. If she remains silent, Levaughn could become Delsin’s next victim. What’s a girl to do? Shawnee makes a whole bunch of bad decisions that place her and her closest friends in harm’s way.
There are times while reading you’ll wonder if Shawnee is also too stupid to live. That’s what Coletta wants you to think. She wants readers to feel the fear as Shawnee’s life becomes even more complicated with every twist and turn. She turns up the heat and readers sweat right along with the characters in this fast-paced novel.
There are still a few loose ends that Coletta leaves hanging at the end of the novel, but I expect she’ll answer all our questions in future books of The Mayhem Series. I look forward to learning more about Shawnee Daniels and her family and friends in Book Two.