A private investigator, helping a man in debt to a thuggish loan shark, ends up working a kidnapping and human trafficking case in this latest entry in Gorham’s (McCrary’s Justice, 2016, etc.) thriller series.
Al Rice has his share of vices, but gambling is what puts him in a $200,000 hole with Montgomery “Monster” Moffett. The latter earns his nickname by pulverizing Al’s left hand with a ball-peen hammer and promising more broken bones if Al doesn’t pay what he owes. Moffett further threatening Al’s mother, Doraleen, gets his old college football teammate and friend Tank Tyler involved. Doraleen’s a second mom to Tank, who turns to private eye/former Special Forces warrior Chuck McCrary. Simply finding the currently missing Al is Chuck’s first task, which entails visiting the gambler’s favorite spots: a local strip club or two. Keeping both Al and Doraleen safe, however, becomes the harder part. Chuck has law enforcement pals from when he was a cop, but that doesn’t stop Moffett’s goons from going after the Rices, and a bloody confrontation leaves people dead, others injured, and someone abducted. Now that the $200,000 (plus interest) is a ransom, the FBI’s curiosity is piqued, especially regarding Moffett’s likely association with human trafficking. Chuck, meanwhile, discovers a secret from Tank and Al’s college football days, which may explain why Tank’s been covering Al’s debts for years. Though the story initially consists of Chuck forking over cash for information about Al, a mystery slowly makes its way into the plot. It’s clear from the beginning, for example, that Tank’s holding back on why he feels he owes Al, and it seems Al displays a keen interest in the strangely hard-to-find dancer Jasmine. Chuck’s tough, surprising a couple of heavies who try to grab him, but faces intimidating foes, particularly Moffett’s henchman Teddy, sporting a pronounced facial scar and what Al considers a “creepy-looking knife.” Unfortunately, girlfriend Miyoki Takahashi adds nothing to either the tale or the protagonist. She’s a character appearing in name only, who evidently resembles a stripper and, sans an “exclusive relationship,” doesn’t hinder any of Chuck’s potential sexual escapades.
A detective who more than holds his own, be it with his fists or intellect.