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ONCE IN, NEVER OUT by Dan Mahoney

ONCE IN, NEVER OUT

By Dan Mahoney

Pub Date: Feb. 16th, 1998
ISBN: 0-312-18228-7
Publisher: St. Martin's

 A police procedural that combines workmanlike genre detail, film-me-please Hollywood violence, and a routine catch-the-psycho plot--and succeeds wonderfully. Becoming ``the NYPD's most famous detective'' hasn't spoiled Detective First Grade Brian McKenna, the hero of exNYPD captain Mahoney's series (Hyde, 1996, etc.). No longer the maverick tough guy of times past, McKenna is now content to use his chummy connections with Commissioner Ray Brunette, who pretends to run the factionalized, highly bureaucratic police department, to speed his investigations. Tossed a missing-person case involving Meaghan Maher, a beautiful Irish lass whose priest brother is a favorite of the Cardinal's, McKenna discovers a curious cover-up in place. Not long after Meaghan's tortured and mutilated body washes up off the coast of Iceland--the apparent victim of a psychopathic IRA bomber who also blew up the visiting British Foreign Secretary, Sir Ian Smythe-Douglass, and his wife--McKenna is on the plane for Eire, where, in the first of many improbabilities, he identifies the bomber, caught in a photo from a security camera, as former NYPD Officer Mike Mullen, who was bounced off the force after he was found shaking down prostitutes. But did Mullen really kill both Meaghan and the foreign secretary, or is there some other shadowy player at work? Usually, fish-out-of-water tales that transport the streetwise cop into an exotic locale signal an author running out of ideas- -especially when the climax involves such cinematic clichÇs as a brake-screeching St. Patrick's Day car chase up Fifth Avenue, with McKenna at the wheel and Iceland's only homicide detective, the Dramamine-gobbling Thor Erikson, riding shotgun. But McKenna's quiet dignity and reasoned appreciation of human foibles, combined with Mahoney's own love of quirky New York types and his skillful command of police minutiae, make the numerous incredulities here permissible. A superb effort from an emerging master of the genre. (Author tour)