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The First Victim (Boldt and Matthews Series #6)

The First Victim (Boldt and Matthews Series #6)

3.2 4
by Ridley Pearson, Scott Rosema (Read by)

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Lou Boldt is back and entering dark new territory in Ridley Pearson's gripping new thriller. A shipping container washed ashore leads Seattle television news anchor Stevie McNeal and reporter friend Melissa on the trail of a scam involving the importation of illegal aliens. A career stepping-stone for McNeal, the investigation puts her at cross-purposes with the


Lou Boldt is back and entering dark new territory in Ridley Pearson's gripping new thriller. A shipping container washed ashore leads Seattle television news anchor Stevie McNeal and reporter friend Melissa on the trail of a scam involving the importation of illegal aliens. A career stepping-stone for McNeal, the investigation puts her at cross-purposes with the Seattle Police Department's Lou Boldt and Sergeant John LaMoia.

When Melissa disappears, perhaps at the hands of the Chinese Triad, McNeal turns from foe to ally and teams up with the detectives on an investigation that takes them from Seattle's docklands to the offices of the INS.

Editorial Reviews

Randy Michael Signor
Pearson’s Seattle police detective Lou Boldt is rapidly growing into one of the better fictional detectives ever penned. Boldt cares about the victims of the crimes he investigates. The victims in this case are Chinese women who pay brokers in order to come to the United States, are smuggled into the Seattle area inside shipping containers and forced to work in sweatshops, literally chained to their sewing machines. One such container ends up in Puget Sound, and one of the women is dead, thus starting a homicide investigation.

But it’s a whole lot more complicated than that. The Immigration and Naturalization Service is involved; a powerful local Chinese power broker floats on the periphery; a television reporter goes underground and disappears; and her half-sister—the star news anchor—takes it on herself to pursue her own investigation. Corruption is everywhere. This effort treats Pearson’s fans to another engaging story and another visit with their favorite detective.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Impeccably paced, beautifully observed and moving with a crescendo of suspense, this is another thoughtful and exciting Seattle-based police thriller from Pearson (The Pied Piper), whose skill at maintaining a balance between the narrative thrust of his plot and the personal lives of his characters makes him a top-notch practitioner of the genre. We learn just enough about Lt. Lou Boldt's current situation to realize that his recent promotion has had mixed benefits: he misses street work and bends the rules to get out from behind his desk. We also discover that his wife Liz's apparent remission from cancer has created some domestic tension — she credits her good results to faith; he can't quite make the same leap — and that financial pressure caused by the loss of her income has made him think about leaving the police force. We acquire this information gradually, as naturally as we would in real life, while being swept along through a heartbreaking narrative that involves illegal Chinese immigrant women being smuggled into Seattle in cargo containers. The story becomes a crusade for two sharp and ambitious female journalists — local TV superstar Stevie McNeal and Melissa Chow, the young Chinese woman McNeal's father adopted, and whom Stevie calls "Little Sister." Lieutenant Boldt and his unusually well-defined team become involved when Melissa goes underground as an illegal and then disappears. Bodies of several Chinese women are found in a public graveyard, the "first victims" of a particularly vicious gang of smugglers. As one of Boldt's colleagues explains to McNeal, "The first victim is generally the one that is handled carelessly." Like all of Pearson's insights into the minds of criminals, cops and citizens, this one is strong, subtle and full of resonance. Atmospheric descriptions of Seattle and some fascinating forensic evidence add texture to a riveting story.
Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Inside a shipping container that has washed ashore near Seattle during a storm is heard the "unmistakable cry of human voices." From this dramatic opening springs Pearson's sixth Lou Boldt thriller, in which the Seattle Police Department goes head to head with the INS to bust an immigrant-smuggling ring run by Chinese gangs. When TV news anchor Stevie McNeal's investigative reporting of the story leads to the disappearance of Melissa, her Chinese friend and cojournalist, Boldt, newly promoted to lieutenant and balking at the administrative duties that keep him from the field work he relishes, jumps into the investigation. Pearson puts the reader smack in the middle of a complex undercover police sting and delivers delectable characters such as Mama Lu, the fat Asian grocery maven, who resembles a "Chinese Winston Churchill." Inventive plotting and strong dialog build gripping suspense. This thriller is sure to be widely sought by library patrons. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/99.]--Molly Gorman, San Marino, CA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The smuggling of illegal aliens may be big business, but it makes for a surprisingly flat thriller for Seattle Police Lt. Lou Boldt (The Pied Piper, 1998, etc.). Delayed and threatened by a Pacific typhoon, the container ship Visage loses one of its containers overboard. When the Coast Guard picks it up, the officers on the scene—including Boldt, his Crimes Against Persons successor Sgt. John LaMoia, and INS agent Brian Coughlie—open it to find nine Chinese women sealed inside, together with the corpses of three others dead of hunger, thirst, and fever. While the Seattle cops and the INS gear up for another of Pearson's trademark jurisdictional scuffles, Channel 4 news anchor Stevie McNeal is persuading her adoptive sister, freelance reporter Melissa Chow, to follow a slender lead to the location of the sweatshops and brothels that the illegals were bound for. But the trail Melissa follows turns unexpectedly hot, and she suddenly decides to go deep undercover, passing herself off as another enslaved immigrant in the sweatshop she's found. As days pass without any word from Melissa, Boldt's leads start to die: the captain of the Visage, a construction-gear manager who knew too much about the unloading of the ship, and finally the bent state employee whose suspicious spending patterns had given Stevie her first promise of a story. Meantime, Boldt, still chafing behind the desk he's been promoted to, has nothing better to do than keep interviewing Mama Lu, doyenne of the Chinese business community, and get maddeningly delphic responses. Pearson keeps spicing the pot with interspersed announcements ("Friday, August 28: 11 Days Missing") and flashbacks to Stevie's childhoodwith her Little Sister, but never makes Melissa, or the traffic in illegals, seem worth ruining your manicure. Not even Pearson's niftiest action sequences can make up for the ho-hum forensics, the colorless villain, and the absence of any real urgency in the rescue. The master of the big-league police thriller has struck out in his own park. ($250,000 ad/promo; author tour)

Product Details

Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
Boldt and Matthews Series , #6
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 5.16(h) x 0.55(d)

Read an Excerpt


Puget Sound, Washington

It came off the northern Pacific as if driven by a witch's broom: the remnants of typhoon Mary that had killed 117 in Japan, left six thousand homeless in Siberia and flooded the western Aleutians for the first time in sixty-two years. In the ocean's open waters it drove seas to thirty feet with its eighty-five mile-per-hour winds, dumping three inches of rain an hour and barreling toward Victoria Island, the San Juan Islands, and the largest estuary in North America, known on charts as Puget Sound. It headed for the city of Seattle as if it had picked its course off a map and caused the biggest rush on plywood and chipboard that King County had ever seen.

In the partially protected waters west of Elliott Bay, one nautical mile beyond the established shipping lanes that fed Seattle's East Waterway dock lands, the pitch black night was punctured by the harsh illumination of shipboard spotlights that in clear weather might have reached a half mile or more, but failed to stretch even a hundred yards in the dismal deluge that had once been Mary. The freighter, Visage, a container ship, rose and sank in fifteen-foot swells, rain drumming decks stacked forty feet high with freight cars. The Asian crew followed the orders of the boatswain who commanded a battery-operated megaphone from an upper deck, instructing them to make-ready.

The huge ship pitched and yawed and rolled port to starboard, threatening to dump its top-heavy cargo. The crew had been captured inside Mary's wrath for the last three hundred nautical miles, three impossibly long days and nights, rarely able to sleep, some unable to eat, at work all hours attempting to keep the hundreds of containers on deck secure. Early on in the blow a container had broken loose, sliding across the steel deck like a seven ton brick and crushing the leg of an unsuspecting crewman to where the ship's medic could find no bones to set, only soft flesh where the shin and knee had once been. Three of the crew had tied themselves to the port rail where they vomited green bile with each and every rise and fall. Only four crewmen were available for the transfer that was to come.

The neighboring tug and barge, seventy feet and closing off Visage's starboard bow, were marked by dim red and green running lights, a single white spot off the tug's bow, and a pair of bright Halogens off the tower of the telescoping yellow crane chained down to the center of the barge. The tug and barge disappeared into a trough, rising and reappearing a moment later, only to sink once again into the foam, the crane as ominous and unnatural as an oil platform. The storm prevented any hope of docking the barge to the freighter, but both captains had enough motivation in their wallets to attempt the transfer nonetheless. Like two ends of a seesaw, the vessels rose and fell alternately, the crane's tower pointing like a broken finger into the tar black clouds. Radio communication was forbidden. Signal lights flashed, the only contact between the two captains.

Finally, in a dangerous and daring dance, the two vessels drew close enough for the crane's slip harness to be snagged by the freighter's crew on an upward pendulum swing. Briefly, the barge and container ship were connected by this dangling steel cable, but it broke loose of their hold, the barge lost to another swell. It was twenty minutes before the crane's steel cable was finally captured for a second time.

The vessels bobbed alongside one another, the slack in the crane's cable going dangerously tight with each alternating swell. The exhausted deckhands of the Visage worked furiously to be rid of this container, to a member wondering if it was worth the bonus pay they had been promised.

When the moment of exchange arrived, the crane made tight the cable and the deckhands cut loose the container's binding chains while lines secured to winches on both vessels attempted to steady the dangling container, for if it swung too violently it was likely to capsize the barge. As the first of these four lines snapped, the container, dangling precipitously over the void of open foam between barge and ship shifted awkwardly, suddenly at a precipitous and treacherous angle. Above the deafening whistle of wind and the lion's roar of the sea, came the muted but unmistakable cry of human voices from within this container.

A crewman crossed himself and looked toward heaven.

A second line snapped. A third.

The container swung and slipped out of the harness, splashing into the water. It submerged and then bobbed back up like a whale surfacing.

The captain of the Visage barked his orders. The mighty twin screws spun to life, the gigantic ship lumbering to port and away from the barge and crane in an effort to keep the container from being crushed between the vessels.

The spotlights on the freighter were ordered extinguished as the ship was consumed by the storm, lumbering back toward the shipping lane where it belonged.

Behind it, in its wake, the abandoned container, singing of human screams and cries of terror, rode the mounting swells into darkness, lost to the wash of the waves and the whim of the wind.

Copyright © 1999 by Ridley Pearson

What People are Saying About This

Clive Cussler
One hell of a writer. He grabs, he twists, he tightens the screws.

Meet the Author

Ridley Pearson is the award-winning co-author, along with Dave Barry, of Peter and the Starcatchers, Peter and the Shadow Thieves, Peter and the Secret of Rundoon, Peter and the Sword of Mercy, Escape From the Carnivale, Cave of the Dark Wind, Blood Tide, and Science Fair. In addition to Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark, Kingdom Keepers: Disney at Dawn, Kingdom Keepers: Disney in Shadow, and Kingdom Keepers: Power Play, he is also the author of the young adult thrillers Steel Trapp: The Challenge and Steel Trapp: The Academy. He has written more than twenty best-selling crime novels including Killer View and Killer Weekend. He was the first American to be awarded the Raymond Chandler/Fulbright Fellowship in Detective Fiction at Oxford University.

Brief Biography

St. Louis, Missouri
Date of Birth:
March 13, 1953
Place of Birth:
Glen Cove, New York
Kansas University, B.A., Brown University

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First Victim (Boldt and Matthews Series #6) 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read several of Pearson's novels and truly thought this one was the best. I could not put it down!!!
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