Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Farewell to Detroit's Detective Sergeant Mulheisen

This is the tenth and final book in Jon A. Jackson's series featuring Detroit homicide detective "Fang" Mulheisen. A bit player in the first book in the series was a mob contractor named Joe Service, and as the series progressed, Service gradually assumed an increasing role, even to the point of having one book in the series that was exclusively his own.

Through most of the series, Mulheisen was in pursuit of Service, though usually as an adjunct of some other investigation he was conducting at the time. He finally managed to arrest him, only to have Service escape with the assistance of a mysterious federal agent named Colonel Tucker. In the last couple of books, Mulheisen and Service reached a rapprochement of sorts, and in this last book, they are allied together in pursuit of the bad guys.

As the book opens, Mulheisen's elderly mother is badly injured in an explosion when terrorists attack a courthouse where she and some fellow bird-watchers are attempting to stop some developers from despoiling a local bird habitat. It's unclear whether the bombers were home-grown, right-wing terrorists, Islamic extremists, environmental activists, or maybe members of a drug cartel attempting to facilitate the escape of one of its members who was at the courthouse that day. Mulheisen, who is still only in his fifties, retires from the force to attend to his mother.

Meanwhile, Joe Service and his long-time lover, Helen Sedlaceck, are happily retired in an isolated spot in Montana when Colonel Tucker tracks Service down to tell him that a drug kingpin that Service thought he had killed in an earlier book, is in fact alive and attempting to hunt Service down in revenge. The drug kingpin has ties to groups in the Detroit area that may have been involved in the attack on the courthouse.

In consequence, Service, Mulheisen, Tucker and his agents all wind up in rural Michigan attempting to track down the bombers and, in Joe's case, to eliminate the threat to his life. At the center of all the activity is a backwoods militia group, led by a shadowy figure named "Imp" Luck. All of these people have their own objectives, sometimes working together and at others, working at cross-purposes. The plot gets a bit confusing in some places with all the intrigues piling up on one another, but, like the other books in the series, it's a entertaining tale with plenty of action and wry humor.

It's impossible to imagine what Jon A.Jackson might have done with these characters, given where he left them at the end of this book, and perhaps this was a good place to draw the curtain on them. But overall, this is a great series and, as I've suggested in an earlier review, Jackson is a writer who perhaps got lost a bit in the shadow cast by his fellow Detroit author Elmore Leonard. But that's a shame, because Jackson is an excellent writer who doubtless deserved to have found a larger audience than he did.

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