BLOOD MUD by K.C. Constantine


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Mario Balzic, chief emeritus of the Rocksburg (Pa.) PD, likes keeping his investigative hand in, especially when there’s a fat fee involved’such as the $50 an hour offered by lawyer Panagios Valcanas to check out a gun-shop burglary that might also be a scam involving the insurance company that Valcanas represents. Mario sets about the sleuthing in his characteristic way—brilliance disguised as plodding—when suddenly the bad thing hits him: a “coronary incident,” as he’s told at Conemaugh General when he comes to after passing out on the steps of the state police barracks. Not to worry, though, his doctor reassures him, explaining about the tiny drill that will dissolve the “blood mud” clogging a Balzic artery. But Mario worries, all right. This quondam tower of strength, who has faced down his share of dangerous enemies, now finds himself terrified, stalked by irrationality, struggling just to get out of his house. But, emotionally off-balance as he is, he’s still Mario Balzic. “Life is movement,” he says grimly, wrenching himself into action. The burglary, he discovers, does have ramifications. Not just a small-time hustle, it’s connected to gangsterism, murder, official cover-up, and police chicanery, which of all public misbehavior is the likeliest to energize the straight-arrow Mario. Rising above a variety of obstacles—his own vulnerabilities among them—he solves the crime, but the punishment that follows is, at the very least, ill-fitting. This is Constantine at the top of his world-class game (Brushback, 1998, etc.), with dialogue to cherish as his hero contends with two intricate cases—the mystery behind a robbery-murder and the even more complex mystery of Mario Balzic.

Pub Date: April 7th, 1999
ISBN: 0-89296-647-5
Page count: 384pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1999


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