Created by Lynn S. Hightower
Here's one feisty Kentucky woman who shines her own kinda light. But watch out for the baseball bat.
When we first meet her, in 1993's Satan's Lambs, Lexington, Kentucky private eye LENA PADGET is trying to deal with the imminent release, on parole, of her brother-in-law from prison, where he's served time for the murder of his then-pregnant wife (Lena's sister) and his young son. Lena's still haunted by the murders (she's the one who discovered the bodies, including her nephew's, which was still warm) and it's shaped her life, taking her from being a bookwormish PHd. candidate to a sort of "women's equalizer" who often accepts non-cash payment for her services, and wields a mean baseball bat.
Her brother-in-law's one twisted, nasty piece of work, a Satan-worshipping sicko, and not too shy about leaving threatening messages for Lena, who he feels owes him. And then a four-year old boy is kidnapped by the cult her brother-in-law once belonged to, and Lena finds herself once again racing to save the life of a child.
A powerful ending helped Satan's Lambs win the Shamus award for best P.I. novel, but it wasn't Hightower's first novel. She also writes the Silver and String, a futuristic police series about a human cop and his stingray partner, and another series about present-day single mom homicide dick Sonara Blair of Cincinnati.
By the way, in 1999's much-ballyhooed "Look ma! I'm writing!" God Is a Bullet by Boston Teran, a hardboiled wallow in depravity and cults, which covers similar ground as Satan's Lambs, the hero's name is Bob Hightower.