out of the blues book coverReviewed by Bethany Kelly

Trudy Nan Boyce, the author of Out of the Blues, served for more than thirty years in the Atlanta Police Department, and her knowledge of police procedure shows in this debut novel revolving around a female detective.

Sarah “Salt” Alt, a newly-promoted homicide detective in the Atlanta Police Department, gets assigned a ten year old cold case on her first day on the job. The death of Mike Anderson, a blues musician, was initially filed as an accidental suicide. However, when new testimony comes to light, there is reason to believe that the overdose wasn’t accidental. Unfortunately, the new testimony comes from someone way too close to home for Salt.

As Salt searches for answers, she comes face-to-face with the many issues plaguing Atlanta. From the city’s homeless and people of poverty to the people in the city’s influential churches, businesses, and the police department itself, Salt must figure out who she can trust in a city where looks can be deceiving.

When Salt gets closer to the truth, she is thrown into a web of interconnecting crimes where the lines between what’s right and what’s wrong can be easily blurred.

I was instantly drawn into this novel; the first scene focusing on a little girl on her birthday, who rushes into her house after hearing a gunshot, to find her dad on the floor with a bullet in his head.

Knowing that the book focused on a female detective, I connected the little girl and detective immediately as one in the same. I have always been interested in how trauma can affect a person, and having this glimpse into Salt’s psyche, I was interested to see how that would affect her as an adult.

The story line itself was both interesting and intriguing, and also intricately woven to create something bigger than I could’ve ever imagined. With that being said, I was disappointed in Salt’s character development. By the end of the book, I didn’t feel as if I knew her well enough. Although we do get brief glimpses into her thoughts and feelings, I wanted more.

I appreciated the real-to-life look into the life of a female detective that Boyce gives us, but I am hoping that she will provide a deeper look into Salt with the next book.

I was very pleased with the amount of Atlanta’s history that was woven into the story. It wasn’t at all distracting and didn’t detract from the story line. Instead, it contributed to the feel of the story.

Finally, I was happy with the underlying issues that were brought up in this book; race issues, gender issues, homelessness, and the corruption in both the church and police department that no one talks about without anger and biases. Boyce gives the reader a look into these issues from both sides of the spectrum: the good and the bad. She shows us that things aren’t always black and white. There are gray areas.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book, and I look forward to reading the next book in this series.

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Bethany Kelly is currently getting her MFA at Goddard College and has a BA in English. She is a writer, editor, and stay-at-home mother and wife who spends her spare time (when she has some) reading and cooking. 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by G.P. Putnam’s Sons. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.