A grim child murder, a crooked partner, a skittish fiancée: Detective Jack Leightner (Red Hook, 2001) is getting too old for this.
While two fisherman are pulling a small coffin out of the water in Red Hook, veteran Brooklyn homicide detective Leightner steels himself to propose to his girlfriend Michelle over a romantic dinner. As Michelle inadvertently eats the chocolate mousse that contains her hidden engagement ring, Jack stays mum. The found coffin, meanwhile, contains the body of a young boy, with no identification except the initials G.I. written on his forehead. Jack catches the case and Tommy Balfa, a new partner. Other easily solved murders demand Jack’s attention, but the G.I. case remains a priority. You wouldn’t know it, though, by Balfa’s behavior. He seems secretive and disinterested to the point of laziness. Nevertheless, they find another victim, a security guard, with the same G.I. message. One day Jack tails Balfa and catches him red-handed with a trunk full of money. He also tracks down the married Balfa’s girlfriend, young nurse Maureen Duffy, who may not be as innocent as she seems. When, after more aborted attempts, Jack works up the nerve to propose to Michelle again, she cries, confesses that she’s been seeing somebody else and runs away.
Cohen’s second procedural believably captures the rhythms and interactions of a busy urban precinct. Everyman Jack, struggling to do the right thing, merits devotion.