VIOLENT CRIMES

Holton must be getting more sleep. His fourth plunges into the murky waters of the Chicago police procedural is his least phantasmagoric, most cinematic book to date. The case begins quietly (though in fact the opening scene is the only quiet moment here) with the discovery of a dead soldier detailed to guard Astrolab Industries' arsenal of high-tech weaponry. Before you can say Rambo, an impressively armored assassin has used Astrolab's latest gear to blow up the Temple of Allah, stronghold of Minister Abdul Ali Malik, a.k.a. fence/pimp Slick Rick Johnson. The assault on Allah's emissary is only the first strike (if you don't count that army guard) in millionaire Steven Zalkin's plan to annihilate everyone who gave him a hard time during his last stretch in the Windy City 15 years ago. Since Zalkin (nÇ Martin Zykus), as Holton reveals in two chunky flashbacks, was a lowly busboy who left Chicago back then wanted for rape and aggravated assault and just having confessed to multiple homicides, that's quite a list of targets. There's Sister Mary Louise Stallings, the saintly rape victim who took holy orders instead of turning Zykus in. There's Commander Larry Cole (Chicago Blues, p. 336, etc.) and Sergeant Blackie Silvestri, the two officers who kept arresting Zykus and were forced to let him go by corrupt and incompetent superiors. There's Frank Delahanty, sozzled Times-Herald columnist who ridiculed Zykus, and who's now using his column to bait Zalkin, not even aware—as nobody else seems to notice either—that Zalkin is really Zykus. (Eerily, Zalkin is arrested once again in his present-day incarnation, and once again released by the dim- witted top brass.) Can Cole and his staunch colleagues take Zalkin as Zykus before Zalkin uses the last of his stolen armaments to reduce the Second District police station to a fine powder? Newcomers to Holton's supercharged procedurals will find this season's relatively sedate installment their best chance of hopping this runaway train.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 1997

ISBN: 0-312-86281-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1996

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THE BLACK ECHO

Big, brooding debut police thriller by Los Angeles Times crime-reporter Connelly, whose labyrinthine tale of a cop tracking vicious bank-robbers sparks and smolders but never quite catches fire. Connelly shows off his deep knowledge of cop procedure right away, expertly detailing the painstaking examination by LAPD homicide detective Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch of the death-scene of sometime junkie Billy Meadows, whom Bosch knew as a fellow "tunnel rat" in Vietnam and who's now o.d.'d in an abandoned water tunnel. Pushing Meadows's death as murder while his colleagues see it as accidental, Bosch, already a black sheep for his vigilante-like ways, further alienates police brass and is soon shadowed by two nastily clownish Internal Affairs cops wherever he goes—even to FBI headquarters, which Bosch storms after he learns that the Bureau had investigated him for a tunnel-engineered bank robbery that Meadows is implicated in. Assigned to work with beautiful, blond FBI agent Eleanor Wish, who soon shares his bed in an edgy alliance, Bosch comes to suspect that the robbers killed Meadows because the vet pawned some of the loot, and that their subsequent killing of the only witness to the Meadows slaying points to a turned cop. But who? Before Bosch can find out, a trace on the bank-robbery victims points him toward a fortune in smuggled diamonds and the likelihood of a second heist—leading to the blundering death of the IAD cops, the unveiling of one bad cop, an anticipated but too-brief climax in the L.A. sewer tunnels, and, in a twisty anticlimax, the revelation of a second rotten law officer. Swift and sure, with sharp characterizations, but at heart really a tightly wrapped package of cop-thriller cliches, from the hero's Dirty Harry persona to the venal brass, the mad-dog IAD cops, and the not-so-surprising villains. Still, Connelly knows his turf and perhaps he'll map it more freshly next time out.

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 1992

ISBN: 0-316-15361-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1991

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A bit over-the-top but still a lot of fun.

THE TENANT

A vicious killer follows a writer’s murderous manuscript to the letter in Danish author Engberg’s U.S. debut.

It’s only been about a year since University of Copenhagen professor Esther de Laurenti retired, and she’s been writing a novel, something she’s always dreamed of. When Esther’s tenant, 21-year-old Julie Stender, is murdered, Esther is shocked. Heading up the investigation is Copenhagen detectives Jeppe Kørner and his partner of eight years, Anette Werner, and it’s proving to be a doozy. The murder was particularly heinous: The killer stabbed Julie and carved strange designs into her face and, frustratingly, seems to have been very careful not to leave any physical evidence at the scene. Of course, as investigators start digging into Julie’s life, they discover some suitably shady secrets in her past, and it’s suggested that one of her boyfriends might have felt scorned enough to resort to murder. Perhaps it was her new boyfriend, who is supposedly a much older, sophisticated man. Too bad nobody knows who he is. When Esther reveals that the details of the murder closely mirror her work in progress, it opens a whole new avenue of investigation, and when Esther attempts to draw the killer out, it puts her firmly in the crosshairs. Engberg’s background as a former dancer and choreographer gives a boost to her considerable flair for the dramatic (keep an eye out for a theatrically staged murder at the Royal Danish Theater) and highlights a strong focus on Copenhagen’s creative community; even Jeppe wanted to be a musician before he became a cop. His fairly recent divorce almost ruined him, and Anette’s upbeat and pragmatic style is no small annoyance to her moody partner, which is played for light comic effect (as is Jeppe’s reawakening libido), leavening the heavier subject matter. Overly familiar plot elements keep this from being a standout, and some twists require a significant suspension of disbelief, but Engberg’s fast-paced narrative is bolstered by an interesting and quirky cast as well as an intriguing setting.

A bit over-the-top but still a lot of fun.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982127-57-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Scout Press/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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