Top positive review
Sanctioned Entertainment Value
on August 20, 2016
After having successfully taken on one of the most popular genres of crime novels, the hunt for a serial killer in his first book, "Eyes of the Predator," Glenn Trust returns to rural Georgia in a second novel, "Sanctioned Murder." And, he's not just content to go over the same territory again; instead, he takes on an equally popular genre, the conspiracy thriller, and the results are just about as good.
This time, the action takes place all over the state of Georgia in addition to fictional Pickham County, located in the southeastern part of the state, not far from Jacksonville. There, a reporter for a local newspaper is run over while jogging, a professional hit made to look like a hit-and-run accident. At nearly the same time, a respected Atlanta judge is murdered in a staged carjacking, and a retired state senator in north Georgia is shot while sitting on his porch by what might appear to be a careless hunter. Law enforcement agencies around the state begin to work on the killings, unaware at first that they are all part of the work of the same conspiracy.
Many of the characters in "Sanctioned Murder" also appeared in Trust's first book, including George Mackey, the sharp Pickham County deputy sheriff who successfully brought down the serial killer earlier. He's a fairly simple, decent guy with a knack for crime solving, and, when some of his contacts from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation let him know that the reporter's murder is tied in with the other killings, he puts his talents on display again. But he's actually more of a secondary character in this book, as it's more of a true procedural, with a number of sharp cops on the case. In fact, it's GBI agent Sharon Price (another holdover from the first book), who first figures out the connection among the killings.
Although the conspiracy in "Sanctioned Murder" is suitably complex and wildly over-the-top (like most books of this type, it requires a healthy suspension of disbelief), what really makes the book entertaining is the look inside the various characters. "Sanctioned Murder" has nearly 90 chapters, and almost all of them are told from the point of view of one of the characters. Author Trust alternates between looking at things through the eyes of the various killers, the various cops, and, in some cases, the victims-to-be. He's far more ambitious here than he was in "Predator," but, for the most part, he's successful. The action is very easy to follow, on both sides of the law. There are two types of villains in the book, the high-level conspirators, who are among the state's rich and powerful, and the various hitmen who carry out the killings, who are resourceful jacks-of-all-trade, whose trade just happens to include pulling off carefully staged murders..
If anything, Trust is a bit too ambitious in "Sanctioned Murder." I won't reveal the nature of the conspiracy involved (although Trust drops a big clue in the subtitle of the novel), but I did think that things fell into place for the police a bit too conveniently at time to enable them to figure out the conspiracy. Plus, the fate of the high level conspirators seemed to me to be a case of highly wishful thinking rather than anything that would take place in the real world. Also, by the end of the book, the thought processes of the various hitmen seem a bit too much of the same thing. Although “Sanctioned Murder” isn’t a short book, it probably would have taken a considerably longer work to fully flesh out that many characters.
None of those quibbles take away from the fact that “Sanctioned Murders” is quite an entertaining read and a real page turner. The finale winds up being a good old fashioned shootout in the woods that’s quite suspenseful, as, in books of this nature with several characters in whom the readers become invested, they are never quite sure who is going to emerge unscathed. In addition, I really enjoyed the wealth of local detail Trust provides, I’ve spent most of my life in Georgia (like Trust, who is a Georgia native), and his description of the various locales is quite authentic. Most of all, I applaud Glenn Trust for staking out some new territory in this book. Too many authors have a well-received first book and then try to rewrite it over and over again. Glenn Trust has gone in a different direction and the readers will definitely be the beneficiaries of his second journey to the Pickham backwoods.