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AT HELL’S GATE by Ethan Black

AT HELL’S GATE

By Ethan Black

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-7432-4398-6
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Fast but flimsy tale about “the richest cops in the NYPD” getting wrong-footed by sunken gold.

Detectives Voort and Connor, nicknamed Merrill and Lynch by envious colleagues, are the well-heeled pair. Voort (Dead for Life, 2003, etc.) is old, stick-to-the ribs money. Dame Fortune, however, has ceased to smile on Mickie Connor, who’s taken such unsettling stock-market hits lately that he’s temporarily hors de combat. Thus it is that Voort is alone when he first encounters the story of the frigate Hussar, which in 1780 sank in the East River. To be more precise, it went down in Hell’s Gate, that section of the river so called because the reefs are formidable enough to have plunged a veritable flotilla of ships into watery graves. The Hussar, British, had been carrying “payroll gold”: the equivalent of $600 million today. Bad guys have been looking to loot it ever since, and Voort has reason to believe that the bad guys he’s particularly interested in may be among them. The villainous pair he’s pursuing are Ted Stone, fat-cat lawyer, and Leon Bok, hotshot mercenary. Stone does murky jobs for international thugs who pass themselves off as businessmen, and Bok is Stone’s right arm in this most recent, most mysterious joint venture, the one that Voort thinks—wrongly—may involve the Hussar. Before Voort can get a fix on what’s really going on, however, he’s kidnapped by Bok, who does humiliating things to him in order to scare him off. He’s scared, all right, but as followers of the series well know, a scared Voort is a Voort to be scared of. Hunter becomes hunted becomes hunter becomes . . . and so on, back and forth, until the snappy finish that almost, though not quite, saves an essentially vacuous thriller.

You won’t be bored, but it runs on empty.