The second installment in Shaffer’s (His Honor, 2012) crime series about Chicago Police Lt. Ed Slate tracks a murder investigation from the Windy City’s suburbs to Hong Kong and beyond.
Slate heads up a new Major Crimes Section on the north side of Chicago with a full caseload on his hands, including a gang killing, a cab-driver homicide, and the robbery and death of a diamond salesman. Meanwhile, Susan Thanajaro, an attractive Asian-American med-school student, has disappeared from her dorm room at Northwestern University, leaving only a “narrow splash” of blood behind. Slate methodically works leads in the Thanajaro case, investigating a university janitor and her current and ex-boyfriends, who all have histories of sexual violence and seem likely suspects, until an important clue falls into Slate’s lap: a phone call from Hong Kong. Slate dispatches Roger Daniels, a trusted Vietnam buddy, to investigate, and the narrative travels with him through the streets of Hong Kong. In the end, the hardworking Slate finally gets his man. Shaffer sketches the wide-ranging investigation in exacting detail, right down to the paperwork, and paints a true-to-life picture of what law enforcement really entails: days that start with coffee and a Danish; pressure from higher-ups to balance hot cases with less-interesting ones; stretches of unfruitful legwork punctuated by violence; and commiseration with colleagues about when to retire. Slate and his right-hand man, Sgt. Joe Barona, also have their quirks: tall, dark Barona likes expensive suits, while Slate wears his trademark “Colombo coat.” Although the dialogue tends to be heavier and more fact-laden than the average gruff detective’s bark, it nonetheless serves the story well.
A fine Chicago procedural that proves its worth in day-to-day grit.