by Jeff Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Borderline Insanity (Thomas & Mercer 2016), Jeff Miller’s second in the Dagney Gray series, follows a Catholic priest’s struggle to find a group if missing illegals in an Ohio town where the rule of law refuses to recognize the plight of non-citizens. Because they aren’t official and there are no bodies–or complaints filed–he is turned down by the local police. One officer sympathetic with his plight sends him to a special unit of the FBI which has been given wide latitude to select the cases they will pursue. There, he catches the attention of Special Agent Dagney Gray. Once she’s interested, she just won’t let go until she either rescues them or finds the killer.
Dagney is a fascinating character. She’s single, tenacious, anorexic, and haunted by her own demons. She seems much like you or me–or any hard-working American–but cleverer, more bullheaded, and less friendly.
“Happiness was something Dagny understood in theory, like a black home. She knew black holes existed, but they were several thousand light years away.”
Though she’s disgusted by the anti-illegal immigrant attitude of the local Sheriff (modeled heavily after Arizona’s Sheriff Arpaio right down to forcing arrestees to work in pink underwear), she doesn’t let this distract her from seeking the truth. Her fellow officers are well-drawn and compelling in their own right. Here’s how Miller describes two fellow agents, Brent and Victor:
“Brent was a handsome black man; Victor was a pale redhead. Brent was fit and athletic; Victor was a little doughy and a lot clumsy. Brent was in his mid-thirties and looked like a man; Victor was in his mid-twenties and looked like a boy. Brent worked people; Victor worked paper.”
Again, as in his first book, Miller’s writing is smooth, clear, every word chosen to convey emotion or drama that builds the story. While he portrays the craziness that has become US immigration policies, he doesn’t lecture, preferring instead to deliver the message through story and scenes.
“No matter what your politics, those are the things that matter [family, dinners together, baseball games, Christmas mornings, school plays, a child’s smile]. We share that, regardless of party or politics, religion or skin color. Or even place of birth.”
It’s worth noting that you don’t have to know the background laid out in the first book, Bubblegum Thief (click for my review), to fully enjoy this book. The only story piece that relies somewhat on the first book is the relationship between Dagney Gray and her boss at the FBI, the Professor. He’s so complicated and often dismissive, you as the reader might wonder why she tolerates him–except you wouldn’t if you read the prequel.
–ebook provided by NetGalley
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.