When a young woman is found dead in an Iowa cornfield—on one of the few family farms still managing to compete with the giants of Big Agriculture—Sergeant Riley Fisher discovers the victim was a childhood friend connected to a dark past she thought she'd left behind. The investigation grows complicated as more victims are found, drawing Riley toward implications far beyond her Midwest town.
The Fields is a cleverly conceived crime novel that brings to mind the work of Karin Slaughter and Robert Dugoni. Erin Young seamlessly weaves in hard-hitting, ripped-from-the-headlines themes like Big Agriculture, addiction and even political corruption, making her book feel urgent and timely. She then grounds these complicated ideas with a heroine who readers can truly relate to and root for ... Stellar characters aside, the first third of The Fields suffered from a serious case of information-dumping. While I enjoyed learning about Big Agriculture, it occasionally felt like Young drew upon her background as a historical fiction writer too much, supplying 10 details when one would suffice or shoving an entire backstory into a quick scene of dialogue. When the novel picked up in the second half, I was grateful for the details, but it took a bit too long to get there. The pace was further slowed down by its secondary plotline, featuring a gubernatorial election occurring in the background of Riley’s investigation that often left me scratching my head. While both plots were tied together in a satisfying way, I believe The Fields could have been much stronger had Young focused on one big scandal or the other rather than both at once.
There is a lot going on here as Riley confronts family issues, and the serial murder investigation leads to a political conspiracy, but well-crafted procedural details and vivid portraits of Black Hawk’s denizens provide a compelling draw.
... [a] promising if overstuffed series launch ... Despite a labored setup and a convoluted denouement, Young delivers a disturbing, twist-riddled thriller stocked with well-drawn characters. Fans of Midwestern crime fiction will be pleased.