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The Shadow Broker by Trace Conger

The Shadow Broker (Mr. Finn Book 1) - Trace Conger

Finn Harding used to be a private investigator but recently lost his PI license. Still, he has bills to pay and he takes on jobs from people who don’t care that he’s no longer licensed. Finn is going to be pulled into the criminal world deeper than he’s ever ventured before. Not only will his life be threatened, but also those of his family as well.

Set mostly in and around Cincinnati, Ohio, this mystery starts off with a crook paying Finn to find out who is blackmailing him. Things get deeper and darker the more Finn digs into the case. His client asks for more and Finn has to decide just how far a field from the law will he wander. This set up makes Finn a pretty interesting character. At the beginning, he’s not above skirting the ethics of the PI business. He has a shady side. But once he loses his PI license and starts working for criminals, he has some hard choices to make about what he will and will not do.

I liked that our hero was not without family. He’s got an ex-wife (Brooke) and their young 6 year old daughter (Becca), who he shares custody with. Then there’s his own father, Granpa Albert. In fact, Albert has some of my favorite scenes in the book, using plain simple ruse to out fox some bad guys. And I don’t blame the nursing home at all for kicking him out.

Finn’s main client, Bishop, runs an illegal on-line black market. There a person can use bit coins to purchase everything from illegal drugs, to assassins, to slaves, to exotic pets, etc. Bishop’s site has been hacked into and the hacker is threatening to hand over info to the federal authorities unless he’s paid monthly. This hacker is the person Finn must find. Things heat up once Finn discovers the hacker and Bishop’s Detroit crime lord boss gets involved. Now several people want Finn dead. I really enjoyed that this story had such twists and things got so complicated for Finn.

Finn walks his readers through the process of hunting down the hacker, of working out his real identity. I liked that we got to see Finn’s thought process and his method for finding his target. However, Finn himself doesn’t take many pains to conceal his own identity. At first, this bothered me and I thought perhaps the author had been a bit lazy here. But then I had to consider that this is Finn’s first time working for the criminal element instead of merely bending a few laws to fulfill a legal private investigation task. Since he didn’t need a strong alias in the past, he probably didn’t think of creating one before jumping into this hacker hunt. But that could just be me making assumptions as Finn doesn’t really mull the point over in his head.

There’s not many female characters in this book. Brooke, the ex-wife, is almost a non-entity. She’s a nurse and fell in love with a doctor (Daryl) but beyond that, we don’t really know anything else. Becca is the female character that has the most scenes and lines. She’s only 6, so I don’t expect her to take part in the investigation or the action scenes. The relationship between her and her father is well done and those scenes show the softer side to Finn. Yet the story could have been balanced a little more by including another relevant female character or two.

Over all, I enjoyed my time with this book. It was well paced and Finn is an interesting character. I liked the touch of noir mystery to it even though we were dealing with 21st century crime.

I received a copy of this book at no cost from the author (via Audiobook Boom) in exchange for an honest review.

Narration: Kyle Tait did a pretty good job. He’s a good fit for Finn. I liked his regional accents for Cincinnati and Detroit. His little girl voice was pretty good too.