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A recovering addict’s seemingly menial job can’t steer him clear of Ohio Mafiosos, crooked politicians, and murderers in Rill’s (An Absent Mind, 2015, etc.) thriller.

Nick Grant’s cocaine habit was a direct result of losing his wife and 8-year-old son in a fire. He gets clean, and the former hotel general manager occupies his time by washing windows at the Langham Apartments in Columbus, Ohio. But gangster Tommy Castellano’s staying there, where feds have him under surveillance as part of an operation to thwart his and Bruno Pascale’s money-laundering scheme. Nick catches the FBI’s attention, too, after he befriends Langham resident Angela Ferraro, who may be skimming laundered funds with Castellano. Nick’s also the son of Lawrence Grant, a corrupt businessman funneling Mafia money through his hotels, now cooperating with the feds. When Castellano dies from an apparent fall, authorities suspect Angela may have assisted in his plunge, and the woman turning to Nick for help only puts them both under a brighter spotlight. Special Agent Maggie Parks is desperate to bring down the Mafiosos, despite Castellano’s death effectively terminating her operation. A politician, however, is aiming for the gangsters as well to win points in the next election, while the baddies opt for more lethal methods when they suspect a turncoat in their midst. The energetic novel is largely humorless but invigorates with a motley assortment of characters. Detectives, criminals, and federal agents abound in a narrative that bounces from scene to scene. Rill delivers a few worthy shocks, including an undercover cop working a case and a surprising murder later in the story. And, of course, there’s the mystery of Castellano’s death because readers don’t know for sure whether Angela’s responsible—though Rill resolves that without much fanfare. The tale’s occasionally stunted by threadbare dialogue: “Don’t bust my chops,” Lawrence tells Maggie. But Rill’s no-nonsense descriptions are chiseled free of extraneous details, giving the plot a steady momentum. A mere two paragraphs, for example, relay Nick hearing Castellano scream, racing down five stories, spotting a sedan nearby, and sprinting to Angela’s door, all with Maggie’s binoculars trained on him.

Expertly spins a cops/crooks tale around a cornucopia of exceptional characters.

Publisher: Avante Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
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