images_009Brigid Quinn, the protagonist and wonderful heroine of Becky Masterman’s new thriller Rage Against the Dying, reminds Auntie M of a female Jethro Gibbs from NCIS–one with a more visceral bent but with a past that haunts her dreams.

This is one strong lady who doesn’t hesitate to get her hands dirty, whether it’s searching river beds for unusual rocks in a dry Tucson river bed, or dealing with maniacal murderers who threaten her and those she loves.

After a life in the FBI, the retiree in her late 50’s–and how nice to have a protagonist of a certain age–finds love with new husband, Carlo,  a retired professor she met auditing his class. They have Pugs and wine and easy days together, building a life where she may even try to learn to cook. Maybe.

But Brigid lives in fear of the mask she’s created slipping, and of Carlo seeing her through her violent past and what she has seen and the person she was, instead of who she’s become. This is one strong gal who can kill with her bare hands, and shivers at the thought of Carlo having that knowledge.

Then an incident occurs that threatens her new-found peace and with that hanging over her shoulder, Brigid is thrust back into the cold case when a man confesses to the string of murders and offers to lead police to the murdered woman’s body in exchange for a plea bargain. This is the one case her team had to leave unsolved. It  left a member of her team dead and the young agent’s murder remains unsolved. It’s an incident that haunts Brigid in her quiet moments, one for which she feels a sense of culpability. She must be involved.

Yet Brigid knows something is wrong, and with her own horrendous secret to keep, she fears everything she works so hard to build will come tumbling down as she matches wits with a terrifying killer. Adding to the confusion is that the new FBI agent on the case believes the confession is faked, and Brigid finds herself at the center of violence once again.

This is a chilling, smart debut. Readers will not only be rooting for Brigid, they will be eager to read the next adventure of this vibrant character who has seen far too much of the heinous side of humanity yet craves normality for herself.