In Holing’s (A Boatload, 2014, etc.) thriller sequel, an ex-con dabbles in his dormant criminal ways to prove that his wife’s friend is innocent of murder.
These days, reformed grifter Jack McCoul is legit, financing his startup business for an app he’s developing. So he’s understandably perturbed when former partner-in-crime Bobby shows up at his door. Bobby has his eye on Dexter Cotswold; more specifically, Dexter’s solid-gold Buddha, which Jack and Bobby once stole years ago. But when Dexter winds up dead, cops set their sights on his wife, Laura, best friend of Jack’s wife, Katie. Jack is determined to find the real killer, while he watches out for two thuggish investors pursuing his app a bit too aggressively; they may be the ones whose car tried to run down Jack and Katie. To get answers, Jack resorts to his old skills—e.g., breaking and entering. The author’s second novel featuring Jack McCoul is a proficient detective story that keeps the plot turning. Jack’s not a typical PI, but he employs his mastery to great effect; he gets help from less reputable types, like a black hat hacker, and runs a con with pal Hark to get into a private club. He’s a likable, levelheaded protagonist faced with endless hurdles. Lead homicide investigator Terry Dolan, for example, hates Jack simply because Terry is Katie’s ex-fiance, and Jack isn’t sure he can trust Bobby, especially because he disappears after the murder. The story is loaded with dishy one-liners for Jack, but even the third-person narrative gets in on the fun, noting a mysterious driver (from the night of Dexter’s murder) who may live “within honking distance.” Jack’s investigations, be they murder- or app-related, come together seamlessly, as he deals with at least one more dead body, a kidnapping, and the Mumbai mafia. Katie is a fine character, but readers unfortunately see little of the smart and strong-willed woman the story describes. She’s often a mere sidekick and at one point even complains that diligent Jack hasn’t yet managed to get Laura out of jail.
An engrossing novel that should earn the series a bevy of new fans.