60TH & HAVERFORD by Neal Goldstein

60TH & HAVERFORD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A Philadelphia police detective looks into a shooting that may have ties to the Islamic State group in this thriller.

A good cop gets shot in a bad part of town, and it’s an all-too-common tragedy. But when the attack happens right before an event of international significance, it’s another thing entirely. Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States is underway, culminating with the World Meeting of Families, a massive set of celebrations that will bring hundreds of thousands of worshipers and travelers to Philadelphia. Only a couple of weeks beforehand, Officer Jake Loman is shot along the procession route by a man claiming to be acting on behalf of IS. While Loman survives, a chain of incidents unfolds that no one could have predicted. Detective Frank Benson, a sometime-black sheep of the Philadelphia Police Department, is unexpectedly assigned to investigate the case even though it seems open and shut at first glance. Meanwhile, he ends up paired to work on the probe with Ophelia “O” Brown-Thurman, an old friend and Loman’s platoon sergeant. In addition, Veronica Cartwright, another personal connection of Benson’s and a Secret Service agent on assignment for the pope’s visit, ends up looking into the possible terrorist link. A tangled web of old wounds and feelings emerges—everyone involved has a rocky past, but they all nonetheless have to unite to figure out the truth behind a crime that ties violent extremists, corrupt cops, and plenty of twists together. Goldstein (Murder and Mayhem in Manayunk, 2016, etc.) spins a taut page-turner with an eye toward the way international threats mix with problems closer to home. The novel’s prose is solid, and its pacing is fast, making it easy to identify the most important details of each scene while still maintaining a complex plot. The characters also work well together, particularly Benson, who’s a classic hard-boiled hero. His previous struggles with addiction and shame are deftly handled, a touch that helps prevent the sense of his character's getting lost in the procedural elements of the story.

A smart, tense tale that keeps its classic cop drama relevant to current events.

Page count: 211pp
Publisher: Self
Program: Kirkus Indie
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