A Brooklyn detective works a vicious homicide while striving to bring his ruptured family together in this debut police procedural.
The latest case for Padraig “Paddy” Joseph Durr, senior first-grade detective at the 83rd Precinct, seems fairly open-and-shut. Two men were with the victim when he was shot by an unknown assailant, who managed to escape but dropped his gun. The witnesses, however, aren’t reliable—one’s a convicted car thief—and the victim isn’t so easy to identify, with a handful of IDs listing varying names on his person. Paddy’s personal life is no less complicated, starting with his estranged wife, Mairead, serving him divorce papers. His infidelity as well as his often strenuous job played a part in the couple’s strained relationship and, by extension, in their children either ignoring or outright despising their father. Flashbacks detail Paddy’s arduous road in his nearly 30 years as a cop. The product of abusive parents, Paddy is the only one of four children who makes it out of the home alive, losing his brothers to gunfire and heroin overdoses. As a cop, he suffers from PTSD following job-related shootings, one that leads to the possibility of a murder indictment. If Paddy can overcome such ordeals, professional and domestic, he’ll hopefully be able to track down the shooter. Though the present-day mystery is standard fare, it’s truly a catalyst for delving into Paddy’s background and all that’s shaped him, with the book excelling as a character study. The detective opens the story by beating, biting, and even spitting on another cop with little provocation (though the motivation is revealed in due course). Nevertheless, Paddy’s history generates a good deal of sympathy. The New York mayor, for one, targets him, turning on Paddy when his justified shooting of a career criminal attracts adverse media coverage that results in public riots. In a similar vein, the affair is more indicative of Paddy’s self-destruction than self-indulgence. O’Keefe’s detective is traditionally gruff but often gleefully so; when asked why he pled the Fifth 29 times in front of a grand jury, he bluntly states that there wasn’t a 30th question.
A murder case becomes the springboard for a striking tale of a man coming to terms with his chaotic past.