Freefall, the third book in the Pen Wilkinson legal thriller series by Brian Lutterman brings back Pen to face another dangerous case, this time involving her own family.
Pen Wilkinson is a paraplegic. A few years ago she got in a car accident that not only killer her six-years-old niece who was at the time with her in the car, but also left Pen hurt for good.
She somehow picked up the pieces of her life and went on living, continuing to help those who could not help themselves, despite her own disability.
But Pen has also a knack for getting herself into trouble. Despite her mobility issues, she doesn’t back down from a case if she believes she can make a difference or save someone’s live. Even if it means putting her own life at risk.
In this latest book, Pen gets a frantic call from her sister whose son, Kenny, disappeared seemingly without a trace.
Pen and her sister have a rather cool relationship, which is not surprising considering that it was Marsha’s daughter who died in that tragic accident which also cost Pen’s health. While they both know that technically it was an accident, this incident cause a major rift between the two women, one that neither of them are able to overcome, even after four long years.
So when Marsha calls asking for her help, Pen is somewhat restrained, yet finds herself eager to help. She is in the middle of a major case at work as a federal prosecutor, but she drops everything and heads to Minnesota to find Kenny.
Marsha is divorced, so the father, Alec, has Kenny living with him in Minnesota. And noone can find Kenny anywhere. He is not at home and he doesn’t answer his phone. He hasn’t been for days.
So Pen does what she knows to do best: she starts investigating Kenny’s disappearance. And the longer she does it, the more she realizes that things are more complicated than they initially seemed.
The longer she stays on the case and the more people she talks to, the clearer it becomes that someone doesn’t want her looking into the disappearance at all, even if it means stopping her from snooping around for good.
The story is fast-paced and the suspense doesn’t let go until the final rewarding conclusion.
Pen is a strong woman who is thriving despite her major disability. In every book I’ve read so far in the series she has managed to go across country to finish her dangerous investigations. And while this particular case has a lot to do with legal battles, her investigation skills still serve her well.
Sadly her tendency to constantly get in perilous situations threatens her relationship with James, which is still on rather shaky grounds. I guess we’ll see in the next books how that aspect of her life works out.
I haven’t read many books with disabled main protagonists, but I have to admit that I hardly thought of her disability throughout the entire read. It is not constantly thrown at us and Pen deals with the elephant in the room in a way that I think I would never be able to do if I were in her position.
Pen is one of the few unsung heroes that we need in our lives now more than ever.