INGRID THOFT – Brutality. Fina Ludlow #3. Putnam, hardcover, June 2015; trade paperback, December 2016.

   I read Loyalty (2013), the first of Fina’s case adventures, almost three years ago, and you can read my review of it here. I am amused to see that I started my comments then by pointing out how thick the book was, 474 pages. Amused, because I was going to start my comments on this book the same way. It’s 450 pages of small print in the trade paperback edition, and it takes a lot of reading to get from beginning to end.

   And what you get, if you do, is a deep-plunge immersion into two weeks of Fina Ludlow’s life, totally and completely. Not only is she working on a case with lots of offshoots to it, but she also has to deal with members of her family, mostly her dysfunctional parents — her brothers, save one, who is a known pedophile, and their families seem to be normal; a close friend who is being pressured to give up a kidney to an aunt she never knew until the aunt needed one and went looking for her; and a couple of men in her life who sleep over once in a while.

   The case itself is the unexplained death of a young mother and housewife attacked in her kitchen by an unknown intruder. The only thing out of the ordinary about her is that she had been suing the university where she was a soccer player years before. She believed the school was responsible for the memory problems she’d been developing, the athletic department in particular.

   Fina’s approach is a scattergun one. The police can do their investigation their own slow, methodical way. She charges right in, asking questions, stirring up dust, so to speak, and sees how it settles. Existing, it seems, on a diet of Dunkin Donuts fare, not difficult to do in the Boston area where her father is the head of the area’s best known litigation firm, Fina is on the road constantly, juggling her personal life along with whatever case she’s on.

   Her smart aleck attitude gets her a long way into digging out the truth, mitigated greatly by how much she cares. It takes a while to get through as many pages as this, but to my mind, they’re well worth the investment in time.

   I do have one small complaint, however. If I read the ending correctly, one aspect of the case is not yet solved at book’s end. Since every other aspect of Fina’s life is carried over from book to book, I’m assuming this will be also. If not, I’m planning on being ticked off.

   Book two, which I happen to have missed, was Identity (2014). Book four, out only in hardcover so far, is Duplicity. Also of note, I’m sure, is that Brutality was the winner of last year’s Shamus award for best hardcover PI novel. A good choice.