Thursday, June 8, 2023

Ellen Crosby's BLOW UP


By Margaret S. Hamilton


After publication of the first two books in the Sophie Medina mystery series, Multiple Exposure (2013) and Ghost Image (2015), Ellen Crosby recently released the third in the series, Blow Up.


Her main character, Sophie Medina, is a favorite of mine, an intrepid photojournalist with well-connected friends and family in the Washington, D.C. political and social scene. In Blow Up, Sophie is a recent widow, struggling to create a new life without her husband. She relies on the support of her high school friends, Jack O’Hara, a Jesuit priest, and Grace Lowe, a journalist.


Sophie and Jack are jogging together when they discover the body of a Supreme Court Justice in an alley behind his home. Sophie dives into the murky circumstances of the Justice’s death, particularly after her informant, a young, homeless, man, is killed.


Sophie is convinced the young man told her the truth. When she searches her collection of photographs of the D.C. homeless population seeking to identify a person of interest known as “the Professor,” she is targeted in a drive-by street shooting.


Add to the mix a Russian oligarch and a woman making claims on Sophie’s grandfather’s estate, and Sophie finds herself fending off attacks on all sides. With Sophie’s determination and a few favors from her friends, justice prevails. But at what cost to her valued friendships?


Blow Up is a fast-paced read about money, power, and influence in Washington, D.C. Crosby uses local settings—the DuPont Circle and Georgetown neighborhoods, and several well-known restaurants—to enhance the narrative. I can’t wait to read the next in the series.


Readers and writers, do you prefer learning about a new location or the comfort of a location you know well?


Photos: When the book opens, Sophie is busy photographing the golden ginkgo trees in the area. They are truly magical and when I’m in DC on my annual Thanksgiving visit, I, too, photograph them on Capitol Hill and the neighborhoods in Northwest D.C.









Jim Jackson said...

I can see why you like Ellen Crosby's stories. Adding this to my TBR list.

KM Rockwood said...

I do love books that place me solidly in their locations, whether I a familiar with the location or not (although I have to admit being more critical if it's a familiar location--"You can't make a left turn at that intersection!")

DC is a great place to set a mystery, and this sounds like a great one.

Lori Roberts Herbst said...

Ooooh, this sounds so good!
I personally like to use fictional towns, though they're based on real places. More freedom to throw in a bakery or bookstore where I need it!

Kait said...

So much for that TBR budget. This sounds fascinating.

I do like to learn about new locations through the eyes of characters. Often, even in locations I know well, I'll find something I didn't realize.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Jim, the Sophie Medina books fit comfortably between traditional mysteries and thrillers. Sophie is an appealing main character, one we're rooting for throughout the book.

Kathleen, the Sophie Medina books are fun DC mysteries with lots of interesting facts about little-known places in the District.

Lori, Crosby knows DC intimately, and it adds to the complexity of the setting. I base my own books in a fictional small Ohio town.

Kait, Crosby throws in lots of hidden details about DC which enhance her setting.

Ellen Crosby said...

Hi, Margaret (and everyone)--Thank you so much for a lovely review. I always enjoy the photographs that accompany them! And I'm especially glad you enjoyed BLOW UP. Look for DODGE & BURN next year, which is about looted art and museums.--Ellen