In Nelson’s debut crime thriller, a city cop faces an evil conspiracy.
Anthony Maddoc is a scarred soul, with a violent, traumatic past as a soldier in Vietnam. He channels that dark energy into his job as a policeman in New York City, where he’s faced with the vicissitudes of human nature, in the office as well as on the street. A deep feud between Maddoc and a hellbent, barbarous lieutenant precedes a series of tragic events. Maddoc’s wife, Marie, is murdered during a mysterious home invasion, in which their house is nearly burned to the ground; later, their daughter, Sylvi, is kidnapped by people whose practices are as bizarre and intricate as their ties to the police force, powerful corporations, politics, and the Catholic Church. Meanwhile, members of the massive, secretive Matterlink Foundation seek information about a strange man, Otha Gubbin, who is the head of a black-market adoption agency and a notorious rapist, bigamist, and cult leader. He preys on young, naïve homeless women and sells their infants for ridiculous profit. Sylvi soon finds herself embroiled in this horrific underworld of murder, coercion, and sexual assault, wondering how to stay alive. Maddoc and his few trusted friends pursue her, hoping to unravel the mystery, as those involved with Matterlink try to cover their tracks. This remarkable thriller offers psychological intricacy and intellectual substance. Nelson makes its criminal activities seem real and convincing, never sacrificing palpable details for generalizations. Ultimately, it’s a story about the consequences of revenge and about what can happen when the hidden, insidious machinery of power reaches into everyday life. It also balances its commitment to its plot with rousing, sudden flashes of action: “Erla came at him with the stick. Vincent, his combat instincts taking over, deflected the stick and smashed her nose flat and to the left of her face with the heel of his hand. She passed out.”
A heady, visceral police thriller.