A drug running Iowa family expands its operation and pays the ultimate price in this third volume of a series.
Veteran operating-room physician and author Veldt (Unfortunate Behavior, 2017, etc.) continues his suspenseful series featuring anesthesiologist Dr. Jack Andrews with this entry that begins with an unexpected shootout between Omaha Sgt. Mike Weber and two mystery men. Meanwhile, after years struggling to make ends meet supporting a wife and four children, local Iowa farmer Bill Daniels finally gets to enjoy a new barn on his family property thanks to trafficking marijuana and methamphetamines. Now nearing 60 years old, Daniels wants out of the business, but his sons Junior, Steve, and Chris have become intoxicated by the thought of making more money on their own by transporting fentanyl to Omaha, and they unceremoniously encourage their father to retire. The author seamlessly ties the opening gunfight to the main plot and identifies one of the dead men shot by Weber as Daniels’ drug running son Steve. The surviving brothers vow revenge and hatch a plan to murder Weber, settle the score, and solidify their hardcore reputation in the urban drug trade. Enter local anesthesiologist, personal ethics crusader, one-man equalizer, and series standard Andrews, who is infuriated by the attempt on the sergeant’s life and promises to avenge the ordeal and bring the offenders to justice. As is typically the case with Andrews, balancing his clinical work at a teaching hospital and efforts to investigate a crime keep him intensely busy, especially since Weber, whom he’s had interactions with, winds up as a patient at his workplace.
In this rousing installment, the Daniels clan and its narcotics operation get a boost from second cousin Alex, who joins the brothers in their enterprise. The sergeant then receives a dire diagnosis from doctors, who say the bullet that grazed his hip could spell the end of his active police work. Leads are scarce in the shooting case as the Daniels brothers zero in on Weber’s address and plan a sniper stakeout to kill the sergeant, but Chris ends up injuring his family instead. Veldt writes in spare prose devoid of expository details, exposing the crime and its consequences on both sides of the law. But this particular quality winds up being a double-edged sword. While the story is told with a swift, unfettered sense of urgency and the villains are depicted as supremely nasty, cutthroat, and vindictive, the lack of backstory on any player, good or bad, leaves the characters disappointingly one-dimensional and without internal motivations. If readers can sidestep the relatively superficial character development, the action remains relentless, and the criminals, who’ve become embroiled in a cat-and-mouse game involving the police, Andrews, and a dogged member of the press, demonstrate enough violent brutality and vengeful bloodthirst to meet the good guys toe to toe.
The ever tenacious, controversial, and quite charming vigilante Dr. Jack Andrews proves his worth once again in this work of suspenseful crime fiction.