The case of a murdered professional killer prompts a Massachusetts cop to focus his investigation on the individuals who hired the assassin in this thriller.
Detective Lt. Bill Coine’s boss, John Desmond, sends him to Quincy Memorial Cemetery, the site of an apparent body dump. Lying in an open grave is an unidentified male victim. Based on the man’s gloves and accompanying high-quality gun with a silencer, Coine determines the victim was a professional hit man. Furthermore, there’s evidence he had been shooting at someone in the cemetery. Police later ID the man as Joe Buscada, a well-known, mob-affiliated assassin working out of Brooklyn. Coine suspects a link to another individual with mob ties: Boston bookie Harold “Smokey” Goldman, who recently died in a car wreck. The hunch pays off: A medical examiner’s discovery of a bullet hole indicates murder. It seems Buscada killed Goldman before his subsequent target managed to off the hit man. Interestingly, Coine finds a bevy of connections between Goldman and Dan Riley, an attorney who tried to prevent the medical examiner’s autopsy of the bookie. Riley may have been the other target, but he stays mum, even after he miraculously survives a second assassin’s bullet. While Desmond is dead set on proving Riley is Buscada’s killer, Coine starts looking for whoever hired the assassins. This is especially vital once it’s clear that hit man No. 2 still has Riley in his sights. With help from an old Army buddy at the FBI, Coine goes after the baddies he believes are calling the shots in Brooklyn.
A prequel to Hanrahan’s (Downsized, 2017) preceding novel featuring Coine, this story follows his last case before retirement. As in the earlier book, the author excels at moving the perspective among an assortment of characters. Coine is a noteworthy protagonist; his deductions are quick (and believable) and he mentors novice trooper John Neiberg. But other characters stand out as well, from antagonistic and rather incompetent Lt. George Petruska to Dr. Rebecca White, who eventually befriends Riley. Hanrahan distinguishes the myriad characters primarily through memorable dialogue: Coine has a catchword (“Bingo!”) and the Brooklyn villains sport a discernible lilt (“Hey walyo, dat’s no way to tawk to your big brudder”). Regarding plot, there isn’t much mystery, at least for readers. For example, an early scene reveals Goldman’s death as murder while the assassination attempt at the cemetery is likewise no secret. But Coine’s meticulous investigation is engrossing, including steps such as the detective fighting for a judge to pass a Motion for Autopsy. It aptly displays the cop’s resolve, which never wavers. The story is furthered enhanced by Riley’s part in the case; he employs legal wrangling in a bid to ensnare the at-large hit man. That villain is an unmitigated menace who, following his failed assassination attempt, continues to target Riley more for “a score to settle” than financial compensation. The denouement, though not entirely surprising, entails a satisfying wrap-up. While readers will surely keep their eyes out for a Coine sequel (or another prequel), the return of other characters would be just as welcome.
A commendable procedural, with a superlative protagonist and supporting cast.