In Crowley’s (Almost Paradise, 2005, etc.) ruckus of a crime novel, a pet columnist on his first day as a tabloid journalist becomes embroiled in a conspiracy-fueled murder spree.
Before taking a bite of his highly anticipated chicken souvlaki sandwich, Francis Xavier Shepherd is interrupted on his first day at the New York Mail by a call from the city desk, and he’s off to report on a “good murder” uptown. Neil Leonardi, husband of infamous reality TV star and celebrity chef Aubrey Forsythe, lies dead in their kitchen, a piece of his flesh expertly removed, cooked and dressed with parmesan cheese. An angry Siberian husky guards him. Shepherd calms the dog, assists in dissecting the events of the crime scene and befriends attending officer Izzy Negron. Before Negron realizes he has mistaken Shepherd for an actual crime reporter with a similar name, Shepherd files an exclusive report, earning singing praises from his manic tabloid bosses as well as the fury of rival cutthroat journalist, Ginny MicHilone. As the case develops, Shepherd’s exclusives pile up, and he delves deeper and deeper into the story of a serial killer nicknamed “The Hacker” by the New York Mail. Shepherd adopts Skippy, the dog from the crime scene, and his life becomes a revolving door of dog walks, dates with beautiful but dangerous women, and trips to murder scenes dotted with the killer’s signature: Altoids mints. Crowley, a seasoned true-crime author, creates an endlessly witty, cheerful and capable protagonist. Humor pervades even in violent scenes, setting the book apart from similar crime novels. On top of its wit, Crowley’s book delivers high and frequent thrills, as Shepherd runs and never walks toward danger, skating through the hiccups in his investigative reporting, sometimes a bit too easily. The tabloids act as a sort of Mafia-like family, and “human resources” takes on a sinister new meaning. The final reveal will illicit both a gasp and a laugh.
A rollicking, sharp-witted crime novel.