The fourth novel in Bartley’s (For a Sin Offering, 2013, etc.) series featuring Bible-toting Ross Duncan follows him as he looks into murders connected to a bank job.
Duncan, on trial for murder, escapes an Indiana jail and heads back to Chicago. But his cavalier exit comes with a price: He must return the favor to the Chicago Outfit and help knock over a bank. During the robbery, an employee is killed by one of Duncan’s assigned partners from New York—a murder that seems too calculated to be unintended. Later, there’s an ambush, and another murder links Duncan to the bank job, leading to them looking for answers and payback in New York. Bartley’s protagonist, in prior books, had been personally invested in acts of vengeance, often spurred by guilt over someone’s death. But there isn’t such an intimate relation this time around; it’s the second murder (of a person he’s encountered for merely a few minutes) that provokes his need for retribution. The story, however, remains dramatically involving. Duncan acts as a conduit of justice, in this case for Tony Accardo, a Chicago gangster whose letter—the details of which are never fully revealed—so strongly affects Duncan that he refuses to stop until he’s found the killers, rereading the letter along the way. And though there are fewer references to his Bible, Duncan is still prone to quoting Scripture, and his position that seems to be one of moral obligation makes him a convincing lead character. The author keeps the series fresh by spotlighting the mystery: Who ordered the killings and where are the New York thugs from the robbery? There are even more intriguing questions after Duncan learns about the two murder victims. Bartley’s also consistent: There’s a witty reminder of Duncan’s bank-robbing profession as he cheerily hums “Skip to My Lou” while robbing another bank, and Duncan’s lady friend, Delilah, is her typical envious self (she’s even jealous of his dead girlfriend). Elsewhere, the largely uninitiated Eva, Delilah’s sister, is so shaken by an early morning escape from the cops that it gives her nightmares. An explosive ending and an uncaught, enigmatic killer guarantee more promising books in the series.
A suave murder mystery and flawless noir landscape—another solid entry in the Bartley canon.