A disgraced DEA agent must take down the leader of a violent drug cartel when he kidnaps her estranged daughter. Disgraced DEA agent Kay Hamilton is trying to repair her reputation by catching the most powerful drug cartel leader in Mexico, Caesar Olivera. She believes she's set up a trap to catch Olivera's younger brother, Tito, which she hopes will lead to the eventual capture of the elder Olivera.
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Kay is successful in capturing Tito, but she knows that Caesar will go to any length to free his brother. When Kay and her fellow agents, assisted by local police and the U.S. Marshal service, attempt to get Tito to court for his initial sentencing, everything that could go wrong does. Caesar has coordinated with local street gangs and in broad daylight on the streets of San Diego, a massive shootout leaves eighteen people dead on both sides.
Tito, however, is not freed and Kay is able to convince the judge that in order to avoid another massacre, they should keep Tito locked up at Camp Pendleton, a local marine base, until he is ready for trial. The judge agrees and Tito is moved to the brig on the base, where he is thought to be completely secure.
Caesar and the men in his organization work to come up with a plan to free Tito from Camp Pendleton, but struggle to find a way in. They then focus on who they can leverage into helping them. When they learn that Kay has a daughter, they kidnap her in an attempt to force her to cooperate with them in freeing Tito. Kay knows she has no choice because they will kill her daughter, but she also refuses to be blackmailed by Caesar.
She goes along with the plan that the Oliveras lay out for her. She will escort Tito from the brig at Camp Pendleton and exchange him for her daughter in Mexico. Kay knows they will kill her and her daughter, so she has to come up with a plan in order to save herself and her daughter.
An unexpected car crash, however, changes everything. As Kay and Tito are leaving the base, they are nearly run off the road and her car flips. Kay is fine, but Tito is killed. Kay has now lost her bargaining chip with Caesar.
Kay manages to fool Caesar into thinking that she is bringing Tito to Mexico with her, not telling him about his death. She arranges a meeting with Caesar on his yacht and her daughter is there, too. With the help of a U.S. Marshal, Caesar is killed and Kay rescues her daughter.
Kay is offered a job in Washington D.C. with an unnamed government entity and she and her daughter will move there to escape the horrors they experienced in San Diego and Mexico.
Best part of story, including ending:
I really liked this story because Kay was a unique character that we don't often see in crime fiction. She is a tough, flawed woman who also displays a certain vulnerability.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene was the initial shootout where the authorities attempt to move Olivera to the courthouse for sentencing. It shows just how dangerous the Olivera family is and what lengths they will go to in order to free Tito.
Opinion about the main character:
Kay is a great protagonist. She isn't perfect, but she is tough and smart and doesn't feel inferior to the men in the DEA who attempt to make her feel inferior.