Indianapolis private eye Frank Behr, who debuted so memorably in City of the Sun (2008), juggles a caseload of felonies that all lead to the same perps.
Martial-arts instructor Aurelio Santos knew how to take care of himself, but he was no match for the man who executed him with a shot through the chin while someone—at least two someones, probably—held him down. The local cops are as confident as Aurelio once was, but Frank, walking in on the crime scene when he arrives early one morning for his private jiu-jitsu lesson, feels responsible for avenging his friend. His sense of mission isn’t diminished by his pregnant girlfriend Susan Durrant’s pleas to play it safe, or the constant reminders that he’s persona non grata in the police department he once called home, or his acceptance of another, paying case searching for two missing operatives for Caro Investigations, a firm too pricey to waste billable hours tracking down its own. Frank’s investigation provides several moody, tense scenes with a woman who insists she wasn’t Aurelio’s girlfriend and some well-muscled fighters who probably didn’t love him either. But it doesn’t have anything like the intensity of his scorching first case, and the crime family behind the family of crimes—Terry Schlegel and his three boys, determined to put local penny-ante gamblers out of business and replace them with something more centralized and lucrative—is neither as fearsome nor as distinctive as it’s meant to be.
A gifted writer’s sophomore slump. Wait till next year.