Monday, March 28, 2016

A Mysterious Death Bedevils the Detectives of the 87th Precinct

The fiftieth novel in the 87th Precinct series may not be the best of the bunch, but it's still a pretty good read. When a woman named Cynthia Keating calls the 87th Precinct to report that she has found her father, Andrew Hale, lying dead in bed, apparently of a heart attack, Detectives Steve Carella and Meyer Meyer respond.

The woman insists that she walked in the door and found her father lying just as the detectives see him, but the detectives wonder why the dead man is lying under the covers, fully clothed except for his shoes. They wonder why Cynthia called the cops instead of simply phoning for a doctor or an ambulance. Mostly they wonder why the corpse's feet and lower legs show signs of postmortem lividity, an indication that the man was almost certainly hanged.

Things are obviously not as they appear and the more the detectives dig into the case, the stranger things appear. The investigation will take Carella and Meyer into the world of the theater and into a couple of seedy strip clubs as well. Along the way, a long-time character in the series will be lost, creating yet another investigation that must be pursued. It's another very good read that nonetheless leaves any long-time reader of the series more than a little depressed, knowing that there are only four books remaining in it.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Great Debut Novel from Lou Berney

When Charles "Shake" Bouchon walks out of prison a free man, he's determined to walk the straight and narrow. He dreams of opening a small restaurant, but no sooner does he hit L.A. than his old boss and former lover, Alexandra Llandryan, asks him for a small favor. Alexandra is the head of the Armenian mob in L.A., and she'd like Shake to drive a car to Vegas and leave it with an obnoxious and obese strip club owner named Dick Moby. Not surprisingly, Moby is known as "The Whale."

Alexandra offers Shake three thousand dollars and a guy fresh out of prison could certainly use the cash. He accepts the offer and en route to Vegas late that night, out in the middle of the desert, the car begins to make a strange noise. Shake stops, opens the trunk and discovers to his amazement, an attractive young blonde, lying there bound and gagged. She's managed to free one leg and has been kicking against the side of the trunk, hence the noise.

Shake is naturally stunned. This is the package he's supposed to be delivering to the Whale? He removes the woman's gag and she explains that she's a housewife with two small children and that she lives in Vegas. Even though they are Mormons, her husband is a degenerate gambler who disappeared while they were vacationing in California. The next day, two thugs kicked in the door to her hotel room and kidnapped her.

Shake assumes the obvious: the woman's husband is deep in debt to the Whale who intends to hold her hostage, or worse, until the husband pays up. Shake knows he will be in deep trouble if he fails to deliver the package, but ex-con or not, he's a relatively decent guy who can't bring himself to seal this poor woman's fate by completing the job he was hired to do.

What follows is a great story, filled with suspense and humor, and populated by a cast of terrific characters. The action moves from California to Vegas to Panama; it involves large sums of money, some very rare religious relics, strippers, gangsters and conventioneers. What more could a reader possibly want?

Lou Berney is, most recently, the author of the much-honored The Long and Faraway Gone, another great read. This was his debut novel and it's a clear winner. It should appeal in particular to fans of the late Elmore Leonard at his prime; it's really that good.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Harry Hole Returns on a Very Personal Mission

At the conclusion of the last book in this series, The Leopard, Harry Hole, no longer on the Oslo police force, retreated to Hong Kong where he built a new life. But three years later, his past calls him home. Oleg, the son of his former lover, Rakel, has been arrested for allegedly killing a drug dealer who was also his friend and the foster brother of the young woman that Oleg loved. The evidence seems incontrovertible, but Harry comes back to Norway in an effort to prove that Oleg is not guilty and to find the real killer.

In his absence, the boy who once called Harry "Dad," has fallen into a life of addiction and crime as a powerful new drug called Violin has swept through the city. Harry is someone who understands the power of addiction and, now clean and sober, he sets himself to the task of saving this boy that he loves.

Without the power of the police force behind him, Harry faces a seriously uphill struggle and the effort takes him deep into the shadowy world of drugs, criminal gangs and the police and politicians who either attempt to resolve the problem or to capitalize upon it. It's a gripping story that leads to a shattering climax, and Nesbo teases out the story in a way that's almost as addictive as the drug at the center of it.

It's a powerful novel and a great read but one cannot emphasize enough the importance of reading this series in order. The reader new to the series certainly does not want to start here. Admittedly, the first two books in the series,The Bat and Cockroaches are a bit weaker than the ones that follow, but at a minimum, one should start with the third book, The Redbreast before moving on. The principal attraction of these books is the character of Harry Hole and the world that surrounds him and no reader would want to deprive him or herself of the pleasure of watching these relationships unfold in order.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Another Puzzling Mystery to Challenge Chief Inspector Morse

The sixth book in the Inspector Morse series is, indeed, a riddle. The author, Colin Dexter, also had a passion for crossword puzzles, and he's created here an intricate puzzle that ultimately borders on the convoluted. The case involves an Oxford don named Browne-Smith, a bachelor, who goes mysteriously missing after being lured to London by the promise of exotic sex. Shortly thereafter, a body is pulled from a river. The corpse is wearing a suit that belonged to Browne-Smith, but it's missing its head, arms and legs. Is it really Browne-Smith? 

The case falls to Inspector Morse of Oxford Homicide, assisted, as always, by his trusty sergeant, Lewis. Morse is a confirmed bachelor who loves the challenge of his job, along with his beer and attractive women. As the investigation proceeds, Morse discovers that bitter rivalries played out in the hallowed halls of Oxford academia, leading in turn, to some very complicated maneuverings. Soon, other bodies are falling and sorting it all out is going to be a very challenging task, even for someone as brilliant as Inspector Morse.

This book was first published in 1983, and is an excellent example of the "puzzle" mysteries that were so popular in British crime fiction at that time. As a practical matter, there's no way that the reader can figure out who done it; you can only hang on and go along for the ride. It's always fun to watch Morse in action, but as is the case in a few of these books, the plot gets a little too complex for its own good and there are maybe one or two totally unanticipated and unnecessary twists at the end. But fans of the series are sure to enjoy it.

Monday, March 21, 2016

A Classic Novel from the Golden Age of Crime Fiction

This classic crime novel was first published in 1942, and in 1944, Otto Preminger made from it the equally classic film starring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews and featuring a haunting title song composed by David Raskin. Only after the film's release did Johnny Mercer write the lyrics to the song, which quickly became a jazz standard.

It's a very atmospheric novel, set in New York City, that practically reads in black and white. At the center is Laura Hunt, a "modern" young woman, at least by the standards of 1942. She's thirty years old and unmarried with a career of her own. She has a fiance, but she's constantly pushing back the wedding date because she values her independence. Another, older, man is also in love with her, but to Laura, he's just a valued friend.

Much of this we learn in retrospect, because as the book opens, Laura's housekeeper comes to work one Saturday morning, opens the door, and finds Laura lying on the floor, dead from a shotgun blast. It's not a pretty sight. Assigned to investigate the murder is Mark McPherson of the NYPD. McPherson is entranced by the portrait of Laura that hangs in the living room of her home, and the more he learns about the victim, the more his feelings for her grow. Before long, he's investigating the murder by day and hanging around her home at night, inhaling the lingering scent of Laura's perfume.

As the above would suggest, this is clearly a book with deep psychological issues at its center. There are some amazing twists and turns as the book progresses, and there are very few other crime novels to which one might compare it. This is a riveting story that will appeal to all readers who love the classics in the field

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A great debut novel from Owen Laukkanen

This is an excellent debut thriller with a great cast of characters, a totally plausible and entertaining plot, and a pace that will keep readers turning the pages at a blistering pace.

When the economy is in the dumpster, what is a young person supposed to do? Four friends, Marie McAllister, Arthur Pender, Ben Stirzaker and Matt Sawyer are recent college graduates with good degrees but no job prospects worthy of the time and effort they put into getting those degrees. Ruminating over drinks one night, one of them teasingly suggests that they might make some money as bank robbers. Then another suggests, somewhat more seriously, that a career as kidnappers might be safer and more lucrative.

Suddenly, the idea is no longer a joke and the four hatch a plan that seems sensible, safe and rewarding. They will carefully research their victims, choosing only marks that can readily afford the ransom they demand. And they will not get greedy, picking very wealthy and/or famous targets and demanding large payoffs. Rather, they pick people who have done fairly well in high finance and ask only $60,000 each for their safe return.

Criss-crossing the country over the space of a couple of years, the plan works beautifully. The victims' families all pay up; they don't call in the police, and the gang is salting away a lot of money to fund their early retirements. But then, finally, they pick the wrong victim, a man who's tied into organized crime. Things go south in a big way, and soon some very bad people are trying to even the score and then some.

If that weren't bad enough, another victim's family has finally ignored the gang's warning and gone to the police. Now an agent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is also on their trail. And no, it's not Lucas Davenport or Virgil Flowers, but rather an up and coming investigator named Kirk Stevens. The FBI also joins the case in the person of Carla Windermere. Stevens is temporarily detailed to the Fibbies and he and Windermere are soon in hot pursuit as well.

What follows is a great chase that runs from Florida to Seattle, to Detroit and elsewhere. There's plenty of action and suspense and Laukannen so skilfully creates the characters of the four young kidnappers that you can't help rooting for them, even though Stevens and Windermere are also great characters and you know that you should be rooting for them. It's a terrific story, and it's really hard to believe that this could be Laukkanen's first time out of the chute.

This is the first in a series of novels featuring Stevens and Windermere, and the latest is The Watcher in the Wall, which is just out this week. The Professionals was released in 2012, and so obviously I'm way, way late to the party here--the penalty one pays for having a TBR stack that is totally out of control. But with this book, Laukkanen has jumped to the top of the pile and I'll be getting back to the adventures of Stevens and Windermere ASAP.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Lives of a Former Boxer and a "Massage" therapist Intersect in L.A.

This is a dark, gritty novel set in contemporary Los Angeles and featuring two principal characters, Nick Pafko and Jenny Yee. Nick is a former boxer who had a promising career until he accidentally killed an opponent in the ring. After that he was never able to deliver another punishing blow and his career rapidly went south. Now he cobbles together a living, taking whatever menial jobs he can find and living on the margins of society.

Jenny is a young "massage" therapist who gives hand jobs to the clients who patronize the apartments where she and a number of other young women work for an actor who's fallen on hard times named Scott Crandall. Crandall was never very good as an actor and now, well past his sell-by date, he can't even land a part in a crappy cable TV series. While he's trying to recover his glory days, Crandall is surviving by renting several apartments and living off the profits of the women he puts to work there.

Jenny is smart and ambitious; she's going to school and assumes that her job as a "masseuse" is simply a stepping stone that enables her to make a lot of money to give herself a good start in life. Then one day she reports to work to discover that a couple of thugs have raped, beaten and robbed two of the other women working in the apartment. She flees the apartment and gives up the job. Later, though, needing money, she returns to work but only upon the condition that Crandall hire someone to provide security at the apartment where she works.

Crandall hires Nick to provide the security and so Nick's life now intersects with Jenny's. The rest of the story unfolds as dark forces threaten both of them. Nick, Jenny and Scott are well-drawn characters and so are the minor members of the cast. Schulian, who is a sportswriter by trade, provides an especially interesting look into the mind of Nick Pafclo and portrays the seamy side of the massage business and a fairly unflattering portrait of the women who work in it, Jenny excepted. But the story moves very slowly and doesn't contain as much tension as one would normally expect from a book like this. A good read, but not a great one.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Detective of the 87th Precinct Face Another Set of Very Challenging Problems

Of the first forty-nine entries in Ed McBain's 87th Precinct series, this (the forty-ninth) is, I think, the best so far. By now, the cast of characters has been thoroughly established and the members have changed very little through the years. When the first book in the series, Cop Hater, appeared, the detectives of the 87th were all in their middle thirties and they still are. The lead detective, Steve Carella, is dreading the approach of his fortieth birthday, but he's taken forty three years to age from thirty-five to forty, so he really shouldn't complain all that much. By now the precinct house, which also hasn't changed in all that time, should be as familiar to readers of the series as their own homes, as will the neighborhoods of McBain's fictional metropolis of Isola, the Big Bad City.

Given that, these books now must succeed or fail almost solely upon the merits of the story that McBain chooses to tell. Each of these books usually finds the detectives working two or three different cases simultaneously and over the years some of them have been more entertaining than others. The three cases that are interwoven through this book are uniformly very good.

As the book opens, detectives Steve Carella and Arthur Brown are called to the scene of a murder in a city park. A young woman has been strangled and, from the ring on her finger, Carella realizes that the woman was a nun, even though she's dressed in civilian clothes. He and Brown are even more surprised when the autopsy reveals that the murdered nun was sporting a set of expensive breast implants, a surgical procedure that I'm quite sure most of the nuns who taught me at St. Anthony's grade school would never have considered. But there are no witnesses, virtually no clues and even fewer leads in the case and so catching her killer is going to be a challenging piece of work.

While Carella and Brown work the murder case, detectives Meyer Meyer and Burt Kling are on the trail of the Cookie Boy, who breaks into peoples' homes, walks out with their valuables and leaves behind a box of chocolate chip cookies. He understands that it's not exactly a fair exchange, but then he did bake the cookies himself and they're very good cookies; he figures it's the least he can do. The newspapers are raising hell about his exploits, but the two detectives are trailing well behind him.

Finally, this book continues a thread that first appeared a couple of books ago. Without giving anything away, someone committed a serious crime against the family of one of the detectives. However, the person escaped conviction for the offense and has now returned to the scene, again constituting a serious threat.

McBain moves back and forth among these investigations and keeps the reader entertained throughout. As always in these books, there's a fair amount of wry humor mixed in with the blood and gore and the case of the murdered nun is especially interesting to follow. Again, for my money this is the best book in the series thus far, which is saying quite a bit given the very high standard that McBain set early on in the series. Any fan of the 87th Precinct will certainly want to search out this book.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Casino Consultant Tony Valentine Faces His Toughest Test Yet

This is the fifth novel in James Swain's series featuring Tony Valentine, and it's among the best in the series. Valentine is an ex-cop who now works as a consultant for casinos around the world, helping them to catch cheats. Usually this involves nothing more than Tony sitting in his recliner at his home in Florida, watching videotapes that the casinos send him and sussing out the cheater's scheme. Occasionally, though, Tony has to get out into the field and investigate things up close and personal, and this is one of those times.

Ricky Smith is a hapless loser from Slippery Rock, North Carolina, and he seems to have finally hit the end of the line one night in Las Vegas when his hotel catches on fire, trapping him on an upper floor. He has no choice but to jump from the balcony in his room and end it all quickly. But, as fate would have it, he crashes through a skylight and lands in the deep end of the hotel's swimming pool. He loses his shoes, but not his life.

Unable to believe his good fortune, he crawls out of the pool, dashes across the street into a neighboring casino and takes a seat at a blackjack table. Having lost all his money in the burning hotel, he borrows twenty bucks from a little old lady and begins to play. Racing from game to game, he cleans up everywhere. He wins at blackjack, roulette and craps. Then, as a capper to the evening, he goes into the poker room and beats the pants off a world champion player.

Those watching in disbelief, dub him "Mr. Lucky." He takes the casino for a million dollars, insisting that the miracle that allowed him to survive the fire had transformed his life. The casino is not so sure and they withhold payment, pending an investigation. Meanwhile, Ricky goes back to Slippery Rock, where his lucky streak continues unabated.

The casino hires Tony Valentine to look into things. Like the casino, Valentine simply cannot believe that anyone could have really been that lucky, miracle or not. When he can't spot anything on the videotapes, Tony reluctantly goes to Slippery Rock to investigate in person and there the sparks really begin to fly.

This is one of the most complex cases that Tony has faced yet. The usual cast of supporting characters is in place and the book is a great deal of fun, filled with action, suspense and humor doled out in just the right amounts. It's hard to imagine any fan of crime fiction who would not enjoy this book.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Introducing Hap and Leonard

First appearing in 1990, this is the book that introduced Joe R. Lansdale's most popular characters, Hap Collins and Leonard Pine. Brothers under the skin, Hap is a good-old-boy white guy from East Texas while Leonard is a black, gay Vietnam War vet. The two practice martial arts together and when we first meet them, they're living close to poverty and eking out a living working in a rose field.

Still, life is fairly copacetic until, out of nowhere, Hap's very sexy ex-wife, Trudy, suddenly shows up. There's no love lost between Leonard and Trudy, but Hap is a guy who more often than not is happy to let his little head do the thinkin', especially when it comes to Trudy. 

After a blissful and energetic reunion, Trudy confesses that she hasn't returned just for a quick romp. She and her current beau, Howard, have a line on what may be upwards of a million dollars that was stolen from a bank years earlier and apparently lies sealed in containers under the deep, frigid waters of a tributary of the Sabine River. Trudy, an unreconstructed hippie, would like Hap to help them recover the money so that she and Howard can donate it to Save the Whales and other worthy causes. 

Trudy is willing to give Hap two hundred thousand dollars of the loot for his trouble since she, Howard and their two other confederates have only a vague idea of where the money might actually be while Hap, who was born and raised in the area has a very good idea. Sexually exhausted, Hap isn't thinking all that clearly, but he agrees to at least consider the scheme. Much to Trudy's consternation, Hap immediately brings Leonard into the action, promising to share his end of the money 50-50.

Much against his better judgment, Leonard agrees and what follows is an action-filled and often hilarious romp. Inevitably a scheme like this is going to go sideways almost immediately, putting everyone involved in the harebrained scheme in grave danger. It's a lot of fun watching all of this play out, and this book provides the basis for the first season of "Hap and Leonard" which is now playing on the Sundance Channel. I'm a huge fan of Michael K. Williams ("The Wire" and "Empire Boardwalk") who's signed on to play Leonard. For that reason alone, I'm really anxious to give the series a try.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Another Excellent Tale from Johnny Shaw

I've been a huge fan of Johnny Shaw's "Fiasco" novels featuring Jimmy Veeder and of his short stories starring Chingon, "The World's Deadliest Mexican," and so of course I was looking forward to his newest book, Floodgate, which has just been released. It's Shaw's most ambitious book yet, darker than his earlier efforts, more outrageous in parts, but also just as funny.

The book is set in the richly imagined Auction City, one of the darkest, dirtiest and most corrupt cities ever to appear in crime fiction, or in probably any other fiction for that matter. The name says it all--everything here has a price. For several generations a number of criminal gangs, the cops being only one among them, have held sway over the city, dividing the spoils and the citizens be damned. A secret group known as Floodgate has kept the peace for years, mediating between the various factions and reminding them to keep their eyes on the prize, namely the profits they all can reap if they don't screw the pooch by fighting each other.

The book begins on a day in 1929, when a huge riot, which became known as the Flood, virtually destroyed the city. But out of the ashes rose a new Auction City which was just as corrupt as the old one but which was usually at peace, thanks to the Floodgate. Fast forward to 1986, when practically the only honest cop in town, Andy Destra, has been framed and booted off the force after beginning an investigation that threatens to expose the corruption at the heart of the police force and, by extension, the city as a whole. Andy was left an orphan at birth and was raised by a woman he calls Champ. Like any normal person in such circumstances, he can't help but wonder about the parents who abandoned him.

Like a lot of Shaw's protagonists, Andy is a bit on the clueless side--a man who is easily buffeted by forces beyond his control and that he only faintly understands. But he is tenacious, and once he has a glimpse of the conspiracy that holds Auction City together, he's not about to give up, no matter the strength of the opposition. 

The book toggles back and forth between that day in 1929 and 1986, and like the layers of an onion, the sordid secrets of Auction City are gradually laid bare. Poor Andy Destra is in mortal danger from the start, and only an alliance with the unlikeliest band of confederates that one can imagine is going to give him any chance of survival.

It's a great story, unlike any other I've read, and the deeper you get into the book the more gripping it becomes until you literally can't put it down. It's also nice to see here a nod to another of my favorite authors, Brace Godfrey. As I suggested above, with this book Shaw has set a new personal standard and really raised expectations with regard to what he might do next. For my own part, I can only say that I hope it won't take him very long. 4.5 stars for me.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Virgil Flowers Is Forced to confront a Gang of Dognappers and a Rabid School Board

This is another hugely entertaining entry in John Sandford's series featuring Virgil Flowers of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Virgil most often deals with crimes committed in the state's rural areas and usually arrives towing his boat behind his truck, just in case time allows for a little fishing.

The book opens when Vigil is awakened in the middle of the night by a frantic call from his friend, Johnson Johnnson. (Johnson's father named his sons after outboard motors, and Evinrude was already taken.) Someone is kidnapping valuable dogs in Johnson's hometown of Trippton in Buchanan County, and the townspeople are in an uproar. So Johnson convinces Virgil to come take a look into the matter.

Just as Virgil arrives, the Buchanan County Consolidated School Board finishes it's public business for the evening and goes into executive session to discuss a personnel matter. Once the school security officer ensures that the building is clear, the Board commences its discussion which centers on the question of whether or not they should kill a reporter who's been poking his nose into matters that the Board would rather not be made public. After a minimal amount of discussion, the members vote unanimously to instruct the school security officer to shoot the reporter while he's out for his nightly run. Meeting adjourned.

When the reporter's body is discovered, Virgil suddenly has a second investigation to conduct. The rest of the book details Virgil's efforts to solve the crimes and time is of the essence as more animals are dognapped and more bodies pile up. The plot moves swiftly and, as always, Sandford has created a great cast of characters. At times the book is laugh-out-loud funny and, as a person who has attended way more than his fair share of school board meetings, I loved watching Virgil pit his skills against the members of the Buchanan County School Board.

The action builds to a great climax and this book is sure to appeal to the fans of "That F****n' Flowers and to anyone who enjoys a crime story that is very well told. I can hardly wait for the next one.

Friday, March 4, 2016

NOCTURNE Is Another Excellent Entry in the 87th Precinct Series

This entry in the 87th Precinct series takes place during a week in which the main characters of the series are working the graveyard shift. Just as they come on duty at 11:45 p.m., detectives Steve Carella and Cotton Hawes catch the murder of an elderly woman who has been shot to death along with her cat. A bedroom window is open and it appears at first glance that the woman was shot by a burglar who surprised her when she returned home from the liquor store.

The detectives quickly discover that in her younger years the victim was a world-renowned concert pianist. But in her old age, she had become extremely arthritic, could no longer play, and was reduced to listening to recordings of her glory days. She was living in poverty, apparently scraping by with just enough to afford fresh fish for her beloved cat every day.

Meanwhile in another part of town three prep school football players are loose in the Big City, looking for action. They find it with a twenty-year-old prostitute and a crack dealer who cross their path in the wee hours of the morning. Nothing good can come of this, and nothing will. This case falls to detective Fat Ollie Weeks, who will investigate the crimes involved as only he can.

The investigations proceed through the next several days and nights. The parallel stories are intricately plotted with lots of twists and turns, and this winds up being one of the better books in the series. At one point, Carella and Hawes wind up investigating a clue that involves a Cadillac that contains a number of bird feathers and more than a little bird poop. This leads to a running joke about Alfred Hitchcock's famous film, "The Birds," in which none of the characters can remember who wrote the screenplay for the movie. The inside joke is, of course, that the screenwriter was Ed McBain, writing under his real name, Evan Hunter. All in all, a very good read.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A Gritty Compelling Novel from Matthew Iden

This is a taut, noirish novel in which the action plays out in only a few hours, albeit very long hours, for the characters who are caught up in the story. Marty Singer is a retired Washington, D.C. homicide detective who's awakened out of a sound sleep a little after 9:00 one night by Chuck Rhee, a detective on the Arlington, Virginia police force who specializes in the criminal gangs that work the area. Chuck's sixteen-year-old sister, Lucy, has failed to come home and Chuck instinctively knows that she's been kidnapped. Rhee understands that if he simply reports Lucy missing, it will be hours and more likely days before the police take any concrete steps to find her. By then she could be gone forever, and Chuck begs Marty to help him short-circuit the process and begin looking for her immediately.

Meanwhile, a rookie Maryland state trooper named Sarah Haynesworth has reason to believe that someone is coercing young girls into prostitution. She has the name of a suspect and of a potential victim, but she arrives at the suspect's home just as the man is dragging the body of the victim, who has overdosed, out his back door. One she arrests the man, Sarah has no authorization to pursue the investigation any further but she continues to do so on her own time. Thus, from two very different angles, Sarah on the one hand and Marty Singer and Chuck Rhee on the other begin to unravel a nightmare scenario in which very young women are being trafficked across several state lines.

The story is told from multiple viewpoints and proceeds at a frantic pace through the rest of that very long night. To say much more about the plot would be to give too much away, but Matthew Iden has written here one of those proverbial thrillers that grabs the reader by the throat and refuses to let go. Even the lesser characters are very finely drawn and the settings are very well done. The action takes place on a cold winter night and Iden has the reader shivering along with the characters at a good many points along the way.

It all builds to a strong climax that caps the story perfectly. This is a novel that will appeal to large numbers of crime fiction readers.