A murdered friend, a beautiful widow and the borough of Brooklyn loom large in this superb installment from NYPD Detective Jack Leightner (The Graving Dock, 2007, etc.).
As he lay recovering from a bullet wound in the chest two years ago, Jack Leightner yearned to compare notes with the man in the next hospital bed, who also had a bullet wound in his chest. Unfortunately, Daniel Lelo, a Russian émigré, didn’t like cops. To Daniel, all cops were cousins of the KGB, brutal and bent. Still, the victims’ shared suffering broke down barriers, and soon enough a friendship developed. Now Jack stares down at a murder victim on a morgue slab, hoping hard that it’s some other Daniel Lelo. When his hope dies, Jack’s business suddenly becomes personal. Daniel, he soon learns, had enemies in his hardscrabble Brooklyn community. Semyon Balakutis, rumored to be with the Russian Mafia, is an especially intriguing specimen. Balakutis is the kind of thug who uses terror as a marketing tool, and he and Daniel had been seen recently in intense discussion. Was it an argument? Jack asks Daniel’s stunning widow. He asks her other questions as well, questions perhaps not as pressing as he tells himself they are. Meanwhile, multi-faceted Brooklyn goes about its quirky, tumultuous business just as if it didn’t hold the key to who killed Daniel Lelo and why.
An impeccable procedural plus a poignant love story, intelligent, understated and refreshing.