A Book Spy Review: ‘Proving Ground’ By Peter Blauner

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Two people who each have something to prove clash in Peter Blauner’s latest thriller, Proving Ground

Lourdes Robles is a tough-as-nails homicide detective who was just reinstated after serving probation, which left a boulder-sized chip on her shoulder. Eager to prove herself to her superiors, Robles throws herself into her next case, attacking it with a vengeance while dragging her partner along with her. 

David Dresden, a prominent civil rights attorney, was found murdered near Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York. Among the potentially long list of suspects is David’s son, Nathaniel “Natty Dread” Dresden, an Army veteran who served in Iraq. Diving into the victim’s past, Robles finds that David and Natty’s relationship was, at best, rocky. But is that enough to think that Natty killed his own father?

Also filling out the list of suspects are a number of former police officers and criminals, and a handful of people who clashed with Dresden publicly in the past–including the FBI, whom he was suing. Still, though, Robles can’t seem to move past Natty, locking in on him from the very start. 

Meanwhile, readers get a glimpse of things from Natty’s point of view, as more of his past is revealed. It’s true he wasn’t close with his father, but after his death Natty teams up with his dad’s old partner, Benjamin Grimaldi, to continue a lawsuit that deals with the FBI handing over a Muslim man to the Macedonians. His hope is that by looking at his dad’s case, Natty can uncover enough to piece together who murdered him and why. 

As both Robles, accompanied by her partner Kevin Sullivanand Natty follow up their own leads, their investigations cross paths, revealing a potentially explosive conspiracy that readers will never see coming. 

Sharing the spotlight, both Robles and Natty are given plenty of time to shine. Likewise, Blauner understands how to develop his characters, letting them grow as the story unfolds. It’s revealed that Natty suffers from PTSD stemming from a gut-wrenching incident that occurred during his time in Iraq. Robles, too, proves to have ample reason for the way she carries herself, making both lead characters easy to relate to. 

Though it’s been more than a decade since his last novel, Peter Blauner makes up for lost time with this well-written, gritty crime novel that delivers plenty of action and suspense, topped off with a daring twist that hits its mark. Proving Ground is a fantastic start to a new series that is rich with compelling characters and full of potential moving forward. 

Book Details

Author: Peter Blauner 
Series: Lourdes Robles
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1250117445
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: May 2, 2017 (Order Now!)

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