With True Blue, best-selling author David Baldacci says he knew “from the beginning” that his memorable duo, Mace and Beth Perry, would be taking center stage again in future thrillers. No wonder: this pair of sisters, who both started out as cops but ended up on different roads, make for compelling reading.

Beth is the chief of police in Washington, D.C., while Mace is just out after doing two years in prison for a crime she didn’t commit. Now she wants to clear her name and win back her badge. The sisters, whose close and supportive friendship held strong all through Mace’s imprisonment, are still watching each other’s backs, and now they’re zeroing in on a web of murder and deception that is spiraling outward, taking in D.C.’s darkest criminal neighborhoods as well as the upper echelons of Washington’s political hierarchy.

Baldacci is at the top of his game here, exercising his talent for creating both winsome and darker-than-dark characters that keep readers turning the pages. Mace grinds her mental gears and operates on a short fuse, but she keeps the book going at a breakneck pace as she steams through D.C.’s mean streets on her cherry red Ducati. Chief Perry has worked hard to get where she is, but her stubborn honesty and inner stability keep the book from bursting apart at the seams. Together these two complement each other as they stand alongside a cast of intriguing characters, including Roy, the hoop-shooting lawyer who found the first body (we know he’ll be back!); Captain, a disheveled homeless vet with a penchant for Twinkies; Abe, the richer-than-rich research scientist who hires Mace; and Mona, a vengeful U.S. attorney with friends in high places. Central to the action are Psycho, Razor, Alisha and other streetwise residents of the “Seven D” neighborhood on one side of town, and the high-flying politicos and shadowy intelligence agents who populate the other side—leaving us not at all clear about which is really the wrong side of the tracks.

In researching True Blue, Baldacci accompanied police patrols on their rounds of D.C. neighborhoods, and wrote a nationally published profile of the capital city’s real-life police chief, Cathy Lanier, the first top-ranked female law enforcement officer in that city’s history. The author’s in-depth research into Lanier’s up-through-the-ranks career helped inspire many of the absorbing details that elevate this book to a notch above most crime thrillers.

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