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THE BURN PATIENT
A Vega and Middleton Novel Book 3
BY SUE HINKIN
The Lucy Vega & Beatrice Middleton Novels
A thriller series featuring TV news reporter Beatrice Middleton and photojournalist Lucy Vega. Along with their family and friends in Los Angeles CA and Savannah GA, the two women take on some of the toughest criminals and risk all to seek justice.
Lucy thought she’d seen her uncle’s murderer die in Guerrero. He was incinerated in a Jeep explosion while trying to put a bullet through her head. She didn’t know officials had never found the body.
Now, Gary Mercer, Hollywood bad boy, drug czar and psychopathic killer, is back from the dead with a new face, literally. This time his perverted sights are set on Bea’s beautiful, naïve, thirteen-year-old daughter, Alyssa. Trafficking her into the porn industry would be the perfect instrument of revenge against Bea and Lucy, whom he blames for his horrific condition.
Mercer continues to recover from traumatic burn injuries, with the help a stunning, power-hungry trans woman with a penchant for cabaret performance and sewing roadkill. With her help, Mercer fights to claim undisputed leadership of the black tar heroin cartel which has been badly shaken by the death of its long-time jefe.
As Bea’s daughter sneaks off to audition for the music video that will result in her ruin, Mercer’s henchmen start a raging brush fire near Lucy’s Malibu ranch. She and Bea struggle to save Alyssa, the ranch, and end Mercer’s reign of terror.
PRAISE for The Burn Patient
Colorado Review 4.5/5
The Burn Patient, the third book in the Vega & Middleton series by Sue Hinkin, chronologically follows right on the heels of the first two, with Bea and Lucy sharing equal time in this book. Their friendship is the core of the Vega & Middleton series and you see that here. No matter who else comes and goes or what problems they face, it is clear they love each other and have each other’s backs. Not that there’s much time for female bonding in The Burn Patient. Hinkin has written another rousing, action-packed story that barely gives the reader time to breathe, much less the characters. With likable heroines, depraved villains, and a cast of interesting supporting characters, Hinkin proves she is more than just a writer of thrillers, her writing is a thrill to read as well.–Colorado Book Review
REVIEW by OnlineBookClub.org
The Burn Patient: A Vega and Middleton Mystery is the third book in the series authored by Sue Hinkin. The book was published by Literary Wanderlust and is 330 pages long. It is divided into 49 chapters. This is an action-packed tale that will keep readers on the edges of their seats. It was gripping from the first page, and the breathless suspense was maintained throughout the story. The conversations were lively and realistic and in this way it was easy to be inside the story. The ending was also realistic.
Both the primary and secondary characters had well-specified roles to carry out. Beatrice and Lucy formed a formidable team. They were close friends and stood up for each other. The drug cartels were merciless people who were only keen on the success of the drug business. Many innocent people lost their lives. Gary Mercer ruled using force, and anyone who stood on his way had to pay dearly. He had learned some harsh lessons from the shortcomings of his predecessor and had resolved not to make the same mistakes. His critical decisions, however, also caused wrangles in his team.
The plot was excellently-built, and the main conflict was also introduced well. The climax rose at a moderate pace such that the reader could connect all events easily. All knots were also tied at the end of the story. Many themes were also interwoven together to produce this enthralling story. The most prevalent themes were revenge, family, friendship, love, and murder.
One of the best things in the book was the twists and turns. They made the story more captivating, and so it was hard to put it down. What I liked most in the book was character development. The characters were relatable. There is nothing that I did not like about the book.
4 out of 4 stars
NOTE for readers’s interest—some of this scene is drawn from personal experience in such a fire that burned up to our back door. Thanks to the Los Angeles County Fire Department, our house was spared.
Forty-two minutes had passed since the 9-1-1 call.
Lucy slid into the driver’s seat. Her eyes and lungs burned as the nightmare raged down on them. She put the Jeep in gear. Red cinders that could ignite blazes miles away pulsed in the wind with the biting scent of smoldering scrub.
Their caravan consisted of Bea’s Beemer, Lucy’s Jeep, retired stuntman Cheyney’s beat-up truck with trailer, his teenaged grandson, Cody, on a horse. They descended the steep gravel quarter-mile drive toward Kanan Road. With Lucy in the lead, they approached the bridge over a seasonal stream. But all she saw was a steep embankment, with no way across.
The bridge was gone.
Not possible. The ancient sycamores clustered along the wash had seen it happen but stood mute.
Damn Mercer to deepest hell.
Lucy pressed the brake and jumped from the Jeep. Her heart hammered. Shards of wood and concrete were scattered like shrapnel across the ground around them. The Vega ranch bridge, now jagged wreckage, had taken a deadly hit. It was the only way on and off the ranch property.
Were they trapped? She struggled to tamp down the horror. The thickening air burned her throat.
Cody rode up beside Lucy. Tripp, brown as tobacco, nickered and stomped. Lucy stroked his muzzle and tried to take an ounce of calm from the sweet animal.
“We came over it a half hour ago,” Cody said. “What the hell?”
Lucy caught a faint odor of gunpowder.
That sonofabitch blew up the bridge. He’s somewhere smirking while we struggle for our lives.
Cheyney, severely arthritic from years of stunt-work, limped over to join them. Bea was in her car on the cellphone.
“Okay, change in plans.” He wiped sweat from his forehead. Cinders scorched dark pricks into his felt hat. The air temperature could bake a pizza and was rising.
The siren-sound of fire rigs speeding up Kanan split a momentary calm in the howling winds. Lucy rubbed her neck muscles. A vice-like headache tightened but she had to stay focused.
They scanned the streambank. It dropped about at least eight feet to a silty, damp creek bed.
“No way can we get our vehicles across this sucker,” Lucy said, coughing. The window of opportunity for escape narrowed by the minute.
“You’re right, doll,” Cheyney said. “We’ll load out the animals here and get ’em all across. Abandon the cars.” He scratched at his whiskered chin. “Dammit, just had the truck detailed.”
Bea ran up to the group. “Got through to the fire department. They’re sending a trailer from an animal rescue group on standby near the station. ETA ten minutes, hopefully.” She didn’t look too sure.
“Okay, let’s move,” Lucy said. “We’ll get the critters across to meet them. Cheyn, you and Cody get the horses. Bea and I’ll handle the rest.”
Bea followed Lucy to the back of the Jeep where they pulled out the chicken coops and together, stumbled down the bank and across the muddy streambed. The hens clucked and protested. Bea tossed more treats to the girls, and they calmed. Cody helped lug the pygmy goat carriers while the old stuntman finished wrangling the equine.
A loud crackle sounded from the hillcrest behind. Lucy looked up at the barn. A whiff of smoke from the roof, benign against a blue patch of sky, suddenly took a dervish-like spin and became a cyclone of fire. Lucy gasped and tears sprang to her eyes. The barn would burn to the ground.
As they struggled to transport the menagerie across the arroyo, a dusty silver Dodge Ram pulling a six-stall horse trailer bumped up the road on the far side of the blown-out bridge. Lucy’s heart took a little leap. Maybe they’d finally caught a break.
A slim, blonde woman in her mid-fifties jumped out of the truck and yelled across the creek where Cheyney, Lucy, and Cody still struggled with an unwilling horse. “Cheyney, load ’em puppies up and let’s get the hell outta here!”
“You’re a sight for sore eyes, April,” he called back.
The explosive sound of falling timbers rocked the barn. Odin, Lucy’s young gelding, reared, whinnying, terrified by the noise. With a panicked shake of the head, he broke away from Cheyney’s grip and galloped in confusion toward the flames.
“Odin, no! Come here!” Blood thundered in Lucy’s temples. She struggled to calm her voice. “Over here, baby boy. Come on.” She rushed after him.
The horse danced across the burning grass. His nostrils flared and white foam hung in lathery strings from his mouth. Cody, still mounted, charged off in pursuit of the runaway. He desperately coaxed his sturdy trail horse, Tripp, up the hill toward the burning barn. Only a couple hundred yards away a wall of flame bore down on them.
With his hood on, Odin was blind. Lucy called out again, trying to soothe and bring him around toward her, but he was in full freak-out.
Cody galloped up alongside the terrified animal. Odin circled and bolted again, this time toward the crumbling barn.
“Odin!” Lucy shrieked.
Cody, crazy stunt-kid with zero fear of the thousand-pound animal in panic, managed to maneuver Tripp next to Odin, squat atop his saddle, and leap.
Raised in Chicago, Sue Hinkin is a former college administrator, TV news photographer, and NBC-TV art department manager. She was a Cinematography Fellow at the American Film Institute. Her debut novel, Deadly Focus, a thriller featuring Los Angeles TV news journalist Bea Jackson and photographer, Lucia Vega, is a 2018 International Book Award finalist. The second book in the series, Low Country Blood, set in Savannah, GA, arrived April 1, 2019. The Burn Patient is slated for released April 2020. See more at www.suehinkin.com.
Most recently, she took a break from the dark side of writing thrillers and completed a Hallmark holiday romance teleplay, A Wonderview Christmas, set in a locale where she owns a rustic cabin.
Hinkin lives in Colorado with her family and an array of rescue critters.
Links to Sue’s website, blog, books, etc.
Thanks, Sue, for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!