Nine years after the Chicago Police Department let a rapist slip between their fingers, people involved in the case are dying by the dozen in this heartfelt, ambitious, highly derivative debut.
The first victim—at least the first one private eye Michael Kelly finds out about—is John Gibbons, his old partner on the Chicago force, shot to death the day after he asks Kelly’s help in the case of Elaine Remington, who’s just reappeared after miraculously surviving a murderous assault in 1997. After the cops arrested a suspect that night, he mysteriously disappeared from the precinct house and the case was discreetly buried. Now a remarkably similar rapist seems to be at work again, leaving behind a trail of cut throats and bullet wounds. It’s all “just like in the movies,” muses Kelly, and he couldn’t be more right. Not only is his author boldly stealing dialogue tags from The Big Sleep, The Godfather and The Silence of the Lambs, Kelly himself, a wisecracking Irish scrapper who slings metaphors like Philip Marlowe and reads Homer and Aeschylus in Greek, is right out of Central Casting. But when Kelly’s oldest friend is murdered—bad for her, good for the story—and the DNA evidence implicates a convict who’s spent the last ten years on Death Row, Kelly shakes off the shades of those genre classics and gets down to business.
If you can shrug off the mannered narration, ex–TV producer Harvey ends up delivering the goods.