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Hallie Ephron | On crime

Unexpected heroes: middle-aged women

Just when you think it’s not possible to sell a publisher on a female protagonist who’s well into middle age, along comes Becky Masterman’s compelling thriller “Rage Against the Dying.” Her protagonist, Brigid Quinn, is 59, a retired FBI agent who burned out after years of working undercover, disgraced because she killed an unarmed perp. Her specialty: investigating sexual homicides. She’s haunted by the disappearance of a young protégée whom she trained to decoy a serial killer.

When a man named Floyd Lynch confesses to what have become known as the “Route 66 murders” because the victims’ mutilated bodies are found posed at the highway’s edge, Brigid emerges from retirement. She’s found a tenuous peace in a brief happy marriage to man who has no idea she was an FBI agent (”No one likes a woman who knows how to kill with her bare hands.”). Lynch claims to know where more bodies are hidden, and he knows details that only the killer could. But Special Agent Laura Coleman, who reminds Brigid of her younger self, convinces Brigid that Lynch didn’t do it. Neither of them can convince their male colleagues.

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