An NYPD detective incongruously juggles a gang of murderous swindlers whose ill-gotten gains are financing international terrorism and a more traditional kind of gang that operates considerably closer to the streets of New York.
Theo Appel, who used to counterfeit documents for the CIA, has been turned away by nearly every cop in town, but Detective Greta Strasser, who can’t persuade anyone in Manhattan’s 24th Precinct that concentration-camp survivor Pauline Kantor’s death was murder, is prepared to listen to him. The story he tells is a wild one. A well-financed band of outlaws has been persuading Holocaust survivors like Pauline, whose assets have never been returned by the Swiss banks in which they were deposited, to file paperwork with the Claims Restoration Tribunal and then killing the claimants and taking over their claims. The most cogent evidence in support of Theo’s theory that the thieves are targeting claimants in several large American cities and murdering them at the rate of one a month comes when he dies himself under circumstances that look like suicide to everyone but Greta. In the meantime, the intrepid heroine narrowly escapes death at the hands of an assassin who breaks into her home and shoots her dog. Greta’s decisive reaction to this home invasion makes it too late to ask the would-be killer whether he was a professional working for the swindlers or a homeboy associate of Viper Xtreme, a gangster Greta can’t help going after even though she’s repeatedly warned to stick to desk duty by both sympathetic Lt. Nick Geracimos and bullying precinct commander Capt. Quill. So Greta keeps working both cases, even after FBI agent Thomas August gets her seconded to the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Whew.
Zerries (The Lost Van Gogh, 2006) keeps both great matters and small moving along smartly courtesy of what may be New York’s toughest female cop.