Norwegian Aud Torvingen was born into a life of wealth and privilege. The former police officer gives back to the community by teaching women self-defense. The new women in her latest course cross all social and financial lines so that a southern society belle is on an even footing with a housewife. The women savor each other’s triumphs until one day one of them has to put into practice what she learned.
After dealing with officials following the woman’s act, Aud flies to Seattle where she owns property that she must clean up as her property manager violated OSHA and EPA rules. The woman was stealing from Aud’s account pretending to fix things while pocketing the money and forcing tenants to move out quickly. Aud tries to buy land on either side of her warehouse. Her warehouse is currently rented by a movie company that is plagued by incidents threatening to bankrupt the company. As Aud cleans up the mess caused by fraud, she finds the perfect person for her, but obstacles stand in their way.
As always Nicola Griffith provides a classic noir heroine who sees herself as strong and capable. Always is as much a crime thriller as it is a woman coming to terms with her vulnerabilities making for a deep character study of the self-assured lead female and to a degree the support cast. Aud is terrific as she recognizes her shortcoming of gullibility, but plans to correct her error personally while still trusting those deserving of it. The two separate subplots rotate chapters with Aud the furious female fury as the link to a fine character-driven thriller.