Leonard Mitchell is the new acting director of New York City's Department to Investigate Misconduct and Corruption. In particular, it's the job of his office to root out and punish corrupt cops. Mitchell is very anxious to get the job on a full-time basis and so it's important that he make a big score right out of the gate.
He gets his chance with a case involving a veteran detective named Ralph Mulino. Mulino is fifty-three years old, a cop with a bad knee and a shadow that's dogged his career for years. He's called out in the middle of a hot night to investigate an alarm from a ship at anchor in the harbor. He's not really the logical person to respond to such a call and can't imagine why he captain has insisted that he should go. But once ordered to do so, he naturally agrees.
When the Harbor Patrol delivers him to the vessel, Mulino climbs a long slippery ladder and makes his way up onto a deck that appears deserted. After a few minutes, though, he discovers a body lying on the deck and suddenly realizes that he is not alone. He tracks down a man moving through the containers and orders him to freeze. The man raises a gun in his direction and Mulino fires a single shot, dropping the man in his tracks. As the man lays dying, Mulino pulls a lanyard from under the guy's shirt and discovers a detective's badge.
At which point, all hell breaks loose.
A swarm of cops arrives and Mulino tells his story. The only problem is that no one can find the gun that Molino saw in the dead man's hand. Thus the case falls to Leonard Mitchell who sees a chance to make his bones by bringing down Molino. But as he digs further into the case, Mitchell finds that he's pulled back the curtain on a web of corruption and financial intrigue, and the more he presses the case the more complicated--and dangerous--it becomes.
This is a taut thriller with a unique protagonist and a very clever set of crimes. The author, a playwright, is himself a veteran of New York City's Civilian Complaint Review Board, and he clearly knows the territory. The city itself is a major character in the novel, and Case puts you right in the middle of it. For example, there's a garbage strike going on during the course of the book, and by the time the author gets through describing it, you could swear that there was a bag of rotting garbage sitting right next to your Barcalounger.
This is a book that will appeal to a large group of crime fiction fans, especially those who enjoy complex and fast-paced stories set on the Mean Streets of the country's most important city--an excellent debut novel.