A brilliant New Jersey police lieutenant hunts a megalomaniacal murderer in Graysol’s debut procedural.
A masked gunman who calls himself “Alpha” takes engineer Phil Bolton and his law professor wife, Jennifer, hostage in their home in South Orange, New Jersey. A ghostwritten newspaper editorial calls for a justice-reform protest march on Newark City Hall. A dozen masked gunmen, led by a refined villain (reminiscent of Die Hard’s Hans Gruber) who self-identifies as “Righteous,” take control of a prison. Newark cop Ted Carson must determine how these events are linked and figure out what Righteous’ horrific agenda is. Carson soon discovers that his own participation in the case was part of Righteous’ diabolical plan. The mystery of the villain’s actual identity drives this densely plotted thriller. Righteous seems to have anticipated every move that the police make against him, but he makes one crucial error—he kills Bolton, and his brilliant wife swears to avenge his death: “You played with fire, asshole,” she vows, and she forms a risky, rule-breaking partnership with Carson. “You’ve got to treat me like a deputy,” she implores the cop, so that they can work together “to catch this jerk.” Carson is on board, but will he do what needs to be done, whatever the cost? Graysol’s novel benefits from his own experience as an attorney in New York City law firms. Rather than recycle familiar tropes and clichés from countless movies and TV shows, the author instead writes with an authentic sense of how lawyers and detectives really think, as when Carson observes at one point, “Coincidences are usually clues in disguise.” Earlier, after an unproductive witness interview, Graysol has the cop reflect, “When you hit a brick wall with the storyline, scrutinize the words people choose.” Indeed, as this intricate tale unfolds, it turns out that one word, in particular, points to Righteous’ true identity—just one of many clever revelations in this satisfying mystery, which also manages to set the stage for a sequel.
A complex tale that introduces two sleuths at the beginning of a beautiful friendship.