Folded, Tina Clough
The 3rd book in the Hunter Grant series, FOLDED sees Hunter and Dao reluctantly pulled into the darkweb and dangerous human traffickers.
After office-worker Grace finds a series of calls for help, folded in tiny origami shapes, dropped outside a high-rise city apartment building on her way to and from work, followed by a physics textbook with tiny writing between the lines, she turns to a work friend for help instead of the police, and then disappears herself. Which leads to the work friend, Linda, asking Hunter and Dao for their help. Initially reluctant, Hunter and Dao are quickly pulled into the story when some high-powered pressuring is expended on trying to stop them. Meanwhile the police, who Grace was reluctant to trust in the first place, prove to be more of a hindrance, providing even more motivation for Hunter and Dao to persist. Dao, in particular, is determined to find the author of the original notes, and there are obvious parallels between both these women's awful stories.
Needless to say, knowledge of the backstory of this series is going to help immensely when reading this novel. Dao's past is particularly key to her reactions in this investigation, as are her unique abilities and interests. There's so much in this story that's revolves around Dao's instincts, and Hunter and Dao's relationship, most of which makes them the compelling pairing that they have been since the first novel.
The strength of this series has always been the relationship and the skill sets that Hunter and Dao bring to their investigations. Their joint determination, their relationship quirks, the protective attitude that Hunter has to his much younger wife, when viewed from an understanding of their backgrounds is both endearing, and, in some cases, quite funny. Their absolute commitment to solving puzzles is always at the forefront of the storylines though, and whilst it could be said this very much a character based series, plots don't take a backseat because of it. The mysteries are always nicely twisty, and there's a believable but quite palpable sense of peril woven in.
Definitely a series that's worth getting on board with, and while ONE SINGLE THING (the second) gave enough hints about backstory from THE CHINESE PROVERB (the first), FOLDED definitely would benefit from having read one or both of the earlier novels.
Grace find notes asking for help folded into tiny origami shapes outside a high-rise city apartment building, and then a physics textbook with tiny writing between the lines is dropped from a high window. Grace has secrets that make her interactions with the police difficult, and she asks her workmate Linda to assist. When Grace abruptly resigns from her job and disappears Linda asks Hunter Grant, ex-army and with a pragmatic view of justice for help, and he reluctantly agrees to help find out what happened to Grace.
Within a short space of time a high-powered lawyer arrives from the US, and shortly after his meeting with Hunter, a "cease and desist" letter arrives from the Cayman Islands. Inspector Bakker - a woman, who in Hunter's words "looks as if she would be useful in a brawl, provided she was on your side" - takes instant exception to his involvement and threatens to arrest him for interfering in an investigation.
Hunter's partner Dao sets out alone on a dangerous mission, driven by a compulsive need to find out what has happened to the girl who wrote the notes, and Hunter looks death in the face when he decides to risk everything to put an end to the Darknet forces that threaten their lives.