An investigation into the death of a drug dealer uncovers an ugly police conspiracy.
Private Investigator Russell Avery generally makes his living as a "handyman" for the Newark police, fixing a variety of complaints and misunderstandings. When social activist Keyonna Jackson asks him to look into the shooting death of Kevin Mathis, a teenage street-level dealer, he is reluctant because, well, drug dealers get shot. But Avery learns Mathis had a cellphone with a video of the police shooting of his friend Luis Becerra, raising the possibility that Mathis was killed by police seeking to suppress the recording, and though justice for Mathis might involve investigating the hands that feed him, Avery decides to take the case. After the video is made public and becomes the cause of enduring Black Lives Matter demonstrations, Avery is pulled in several directions: Police officials tell him he is following false leads and threaten his PI license; his ex-girlfriend Dina, who is a reporter, wants to run a story that may be incomplete; Keyonna sees the shootings as symptoms of social injustice, regardless of the facts; and Avery's own loyalties and friendships within the police department are strained. Overall, the various factions neatly represent public voices in the broader discussion of crime and responsibility, and to that degree the novel is formulaic. If the minor characters lack authenticity and their dialogue all sounds similar, Avery's first-person voice is strong and distinct, and his moral quandaries are real and immediate.
A creditable debut thriller, if a little too neat.