Miller (A Foundation of Lies, 2015, etc.) revisits the tumultuous life of homebuilder Max Dietrich in this new crime novel.
After getting out of prison for mob-related activities, Max and his police detective wife, Jessie, move from Pennsylvania to the quiet environs of the Texas Hill Country. Max returns to his original profession of building houses; Jessie gets a job with the local sheriff’s department; and they settle down to raise their young son in what they hope will be a peaceful existence. When meth-manufacturing bikers set up shop in town, however, Max fears a “return to the bad old days.” A feisty cop, Jessie is anxious to bring the gang to justice, though Max grumbles that he was happier when she was just busting high school kids for drinking. But it isn’t just Jessie that gets involved in the case: Max’s reputation as a mob affiliate and hardened criminal gives him cred among the small-town cops in his wife’s department, and they recruit him to help plan their course of action (even if, as Max admits, most of his know-how comes from the crime novels he read while locked up and bored out of his mind). The operation goes violently awry, landing Jessie in the hospital and Max in legal trouble when the ensuing media storm starts searching for someone to blame. Miller spins his yarn with characteristic vigor and urgency: Max is a narrator with an appealing blend of arrogance, humor, and practicality. The plot builds nicely, from a cheery, low-stakes police-raid-as-cure-for-boredom to a deadly serious struggle between the larger forces of Max’s present and past. The characters are a little thin, and one significant death gets less care than it deserves, but fans of the genre should find the story engrossing and the action satisfying.
A bloody and entertaining installment in a developing crime series.