I could’ve screamed, knowing that I was the only person in the room working toward a peaceful resolution. Me, Afton Morrison, the disturbed murderess, suggesting that everyone take a deep breath, and find an answer that didn’t include violence.
Things have gone from bad to worse for Afton Morrison, the would-be murderess -- not only is she being framed for a murder she didn't commit, but didn't; her home has been violated; her understanding of her childhood and family has been shattered; and so many buildings in her town have been burned over the last few days that the police have ordered a lockdown.
Again, this is hard to talk about without spoiling Book 1 and/or 2, so I'll dodge it. Afton's pushed about to her limit -- maybe past it. And pushes herself in new ways. Ultimately, she embraces the violent tendencies that almost pushed her into her first kill back in Book 1 and sets out to put an end to the chaos that surrounds her home town and threatens to burn it all to the ground.
There is a hand-to-hand fight scene toward the end of the novella that was fantastic. I'd stack it up against Child, Sharp, Finder, or the like any day.
Beyond that there's some compelling character-focused material. There's some interesting discussion between the characters on the eternal nature/nurture debate. Afton gets very self-reflective -- and maybe grows a little as a result. The emotional beats between the Afton and her family/friends (or the closest things she ahs to friends) are deeper than I expected, and hard-earned.
I've enjoyed and appreciated the series to this point, but Jones has found a new gear here, and has produced something markedly better than the rest. I'm not sure what he did here that was better -- but every scene, every character, every thing, every theme is better written, better focused, sharper -- if part 4 lives up to this, it's going to be a great ending.