Dirty politics and poisoned heroin dim the light in the not-so-hip, not-so-rich Austin of 1991.
As the only New York Jew in the Austin Police Department, Detective Dan Reles, who first appeared in Simon’s Dirty Sally (2004), is accustomed to a certain amount of professional isolation. A former boxer, he may be as tough as any of his colleagues, but he can never be reborn as a Good Ol’ Boy. Yet the professional isolation seems not nearly as affecting as the emotional distance his girlfriend Rachel Velez is keeping. The widow of Dan’s late mentor Joey Velez, Rachel lives in fear that she will lose Dan to his job, and her fears are far from groundless. Dan is dedicated and dogged, and Austin is in the thick of the drug epidemic. Drugs are, in fact, at the heart of Dan’s current case, the horrifying shooting of two young children in front of their mother. The mother is Virginia Key, a petite, squeaky-voiced, African-American lawyer rearing her son and daughter in an all-white neighborhood as she considers a run for city council. The family had come home and apparently interrupted a burglary by a drug addict. Leaping to the defense of his mother and younger sister, nine-year-old Ruben took a bullet that passed through his body and killed his sister. Now he lies in a coma and Dan tries to sort things out. So is James Torbett, the only black detective on the force, a happily married family man blindsided by an instant and powerful attraction to Virginia Key. Working separately, but united by their domestic problems, the two detectives pick away at the oddness of the murder scene (the intruder had an English accent and addressed Mrs. Key by name) and begin to learn that Mrs. Key is no angel and that her assailant was tied not just to the drug trade but, eventually, Dan and Rachel’s troubled past.
Gritty, jumpy and absorbing.