“Help me, Mom!”

A text from a dead child? Not possible.

At least that’s the initial reaction of Amara Alvarez of the San Antonio Police when Marisa and Enzo Reyes insist their son Benjamin, lost three years earlier in a school bus crash, is trying to communicate with them.

That gets things going in Collision of Lies (Revell Books), Tom Threadgill’s tale of smart suspense featuring a clever protagonist and cast of witty and complicated characters, including Amara’s pet lizard Larry.

Amara, a detective in the San Antonio Police Department Property Crimes Division, is a tough, kick-ass cop (and her boss might say even a great cop), with a knack of solving even the most complicated crimes. But she’s tired of investigating break-ins and missing dogs. Amara hankers to immerse herself in real, gritty police work and would give anything to transfer into the Homicide Division.

When Amara encounters Marisa and Enzo Reyes at the Breakfast Bodega, she initially dismisses their outrageous plea for help. After three years, the Reyes still mourn the loss of their son Benjamin in the Cotulla, Texas school bus crash. Benjamin was one of 13 children who perished when a suicidal bus driver plowed directly into the path of an oncoming freight train. However, the Reyes claim they received a text from Benjamin, and they insist Benjamin could still be alive.

At first, Amara is reticent to believe such a shocking proposition. The case had been thoroughly investigated at the time by every imaginable state, federal and local agency, and was determined to be an accident. However, she becomes intrigued when she discovers that a victim in a San Antonio double homicide is coincidentally linked to the bus crash.

There are too many unanswered questions suggesting all is not as it appears. Was the Cotulla crash really an accident? If not, who engineered such a horrific event and why? And most pressing, are the Reyes correct that their son could still be alive?

Amara’s ambition propels her to secretly investigate the closed Cotulla case knowing that solving the mystery could punch her ticket into the Homicide Division. But it is more than ambition that drives her to assist the Reyes. She’s become obsessed with the idea that Benjamin is still alive, raising the further question as to whether she’s become too emotionally involved to investigate the accident.

Persuaded by Amara’s proof of the flaws in the original case, the police chief buddies up Texas Ranger Sara Riley and Amara to reopen the investigation. Enlisting the talents of Medical Examiner Douglas Pritchard, the ad hoc team covertly employs forensic evidence that breaks the case wide open.

Like the protagonist, the reader acquires an insider’s view into the use and reliability of DNA in criminal investigations. Without bogging the reader down with too many technical details, Threadgill neatly illustrates that a simple cheek swab can serve a greater public purpose than locating long lost relatives. It can be the key to investigation.

Threadgill creates a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, with thrills and danger around every corner. The result is a masterfully crafted crime so fascinating that it defies the boundaries of decency and international borders.

Collision of Lies is available for purchase. Visit Tom Threadgill’s author page on BookTrib.

Tom Threadgill turned his love of a good tale into a full-time profession. His books have a distinct focus on clean, suspenseful action with strong character development. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers and American Christian Fiction Writers. In his downtime, Tom enjoys woodworking, riding his Harley and chasing the elusive Yard of the Month award. He currently resides with his wife in rural western Tennessee.