The creator of Burke, all-purpose noir stylist Vachss (Mortal Lock, 2013, etc.) launches a new series featuring a freelance investigator who could give Dirty Harry a run for his money.
Adelbert B. Jackson is a soldier of fortune who got his training with the French Foreign Legion. His wife, Dolly, is a nurse who served with Doctors without Borders. After all the traumatic experiences they’ve lived through, they figure it’s time to settle down in a peaceful Oregon town. Their repose is over, however, the day star athlete MaryLou McCoy walks into her high school and empties her father’s .22 revolver into a group of fellow students, killing Cameron Taft. Although MaryLou doesn’t deny the stories of the eyewitnesses and refuses to say anything in elaboration when the police question her, Dell and Dolly swiftly convince themselves that there’s more to her story. In the first of many highhanded moves, Dell offers Bradley L. Swift, MaryLou’s court-appointed attorney, a $25,000 retainer to defend her, guaranteeing Dell a great deal of control over the case—beginning with a letter that appoints Dell Swift’s official investigator. Meantime, Dolly swings into action networking with MaryLou’s schoolmates and ferreting out leads and contacts. The dirt they dig up on the local justice system, the culture of the school and the Tiger Ko Khai Society, which Cam headed, is utterly unsurprising. And there’s all the posturing and swaggering you’d expect from Vachss, especially when he’s launching a new hero who wants you to know that he’s a lot tougher than you. But the closing courtroom scenes serve as a powerful reminder that the practice of law is at heart a blood sport.
Overlong, repetitive and more testosterone-charged than it needs to be. But Vachss’ followers will devour it and will keep watch for Dell and Dolly’s return.