Mick and Darcy are thrown into a mystery peppered with violence when their friend and compatriot, Tom Smythe, is arrested for shooting a deputy sheriff two weeks after starting work as an administrative officer for Geneva County. Mick is drawn into the investigation and to aid Tom he taps into his professional and personal resources, including long time friend New York Senator Bill Sawyer. It soon becomes clear that the shooting is tied to corruption in the sheriff's office. Unknown perpetrators are stealing and liquidating property forfeited by criminals and stored by Geneva County. Suddenly, Mick's GAO assignment is no longer routine.
As Tom tries to extricate himself from his legal nightmare, someone starts murdering sheriffs deputies believed to be involved in the county theft ring, and evidence points to Tom. Florida state, and federal investigators struggle to determine motive, find clues, and address a complicated set of multi-jurisdictional crimes. Meanwhile, Darcy unintentionally draws dangerous attention to herself when she innocently looks for evidence to help Tom and becomes a target for threats and violence.
As Mick's GAO team continues their audit of the asset forfeiture program, Mick realizes the corruption in the sheriffs office is strangely intertwined with a Yemeni-Pakistani terrorist cell using smuggled pre-Columbian artifacts to raise funds for a new branch of Al Qaeda. Mick and Darcy risk their well-being when they embark on a six day Caribbean cruise aboard a mega million-dollar yacht and uncover smuggling activity by the yacht's captain and crew. Their discovery eventually leads authorities to unravel a surprising internal county scheme and to catch an unbalanced murderer, who nearly succeeds in adding Darcy to the list of victims.
While these events are producing enough trauma and stress for Darcy and friends, her birth daughter, Rachael makes a surprise visit from Kenya where she lives with her adoptive parents, bringing with her another shocking set of problems. Darcy and Mick are thrown into a parenting and problem-solving role when Rachael's parents are unwilling or unable to handle their daughter's troubles. Rachael too becomes a target of desperate criminals when she takes it upon herself to help solve Tom's attempted murder case. Darcy must face how similar she and Rachael are despite having been apart most of Rachael's life. Even after resolving the problems in Geneva County, Darcy and Mick must still contend with the surprising and controversial family crisis that Rachael literally brings to their doorstep.
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Having enjoyed the first two novels in Arleen Alleman's mystery series, I was anxious to read an advance copy of Current Assets. Arleen wrote another fascinating novel! The characters take a short luxury cruise down the western Caribbean, but the story mainly takes place on Marco Island, off the Florida coast. Alleman brings back familiar characters from the first two novels, making established readers feel like they dropped in for a visit with old friends. We care about these characters, understand their flaws, and hope they work out their complicated relationships. New readers are given enough back-story so they won't wonder what happened earlier. The plot has plenty of intrigue and adventure, nail biting scenes, and charming descriptions of Marco Island. The action starts when Tom Smythe shoots a fellow police officer, and Mick scrambles to help prove the shooting was self-defense. Mick recently found problems with records of police asset forfeiture sales in Florida and realizes that Tom found another case of police corruption. This book explains how criminals forfeit cash, jewelry, vehicles, and real estate connected with their crimes. The author suggests that individuals in police departments can "lose" paperwork to sell those assets for personal gain. Arleen Alleman always does her homework. She weaves real facts into a sophisticated narrative, keeping readers on the edge of our chairs until we finish the story. Her new characters are well developed and suspense builds throughout the novel. Why would honest citizens turn to crime? Will Mick be able to prove Tom's innocence when the only witness is the injured officer? As bodies start to fall, we worry that Darcy's curiosity might get her killed. Readers also learn about Darcy's personal life. We imagine pouring a cup of tea and sitting on the deck while manatees move through the nearby canal. We enjoy hearing about Darcy's love life and her tenuous relationship with her daughter. After all, Darcy is an old friend and we just dropped by for a visit.