Mainline Philadelphia homicide detective Matt Payne battles mobsters in Griffin’s (The Vigilantes, 2010, etc.) latest book in his Badge of Honor series.
Krystal Gonzalez takes two to the head in the Society Hill townhouse of Maggie McMain. McCain’s missing, but she’s not a suspect. It’s feared the culprit who murdered Gonzalez has kidnapped or killed McCain. McCain, who runs Mary’s House, a shelter for foster children, is the daughter of a Philadelphia mover and shaker, and Gonzalez, once a client of Mary’s House, may have become entangled in the tentacles of the Los Zetas Mexican drug cartel. Authorities know too that elements of the Russian mob, busy worming its way into Philadelphia politics via payoffs from Cayman Island bank accounts, are allying with the cartel. Griffin offers the usual good guys of movie-star proportions—"six feet tall, a lithely muscled 170 pounds...thick dark hair...neat and short." Nearly everyone on the side of the angels is wealthy or connected to wealth or to each other. There are down-to-the-bullets-in-the-magazine descriptions of weapons—the trusty Colt .45 1911A is a favorite—as well as techno-gear from throwaway cellphones to anonymous email servers. Griffin serves up enough exposition about geographical locales and amenities, exotic and prosaic, to provide useful travel guides. Much of the narrative could be a CliffNotes synopsis of the corruption of legitimate processes—EB-5 visas for moneyed immigrants, international banking, capital investment funds—by drug and prostitution profits. Rich immigrants and drug lords manipulate; naive girls and runaway teens end up dead and disappeared into El Pozolero’s bath of sodium hydroxide lye beads; and McCain goes to ground in a posh Virgin Islands resort. All but the last few chapters are a setup for the quick but open-ended conclusion, where Payne lets bullets fly and bad guys die.
Formulaic but great good fun for genre fans.