This detective-narrated mystery delves deep into a seedy criminal underworld to find out who murdered the saintly leader of a local charity.
Detective Diogenes “Sully” Sullivan is only weeks away from retiring and spending his remaining days drinking Irish whiskey in his room above Rosie’s bar—unless he runs off to Ireland to do the same thing there. His career has been littered with questionable activity and borderline corruption that has had Internal Affairs on his tail for years. However, his career gets its swan song when the body of Carmen Penn is found disguised as a drug-overdosed prostitute. Sully teams up with an enthusiastic new crime lab tech named Lisa to figure out who could have possibly wanted Carmen, the well-respected leader of a local charity, dead. Their journey to find the truth leads them to a strip club, seedy bars, a porn studio and other less-than-respectable establishments filled with a colorful, diverse cast of characters. Author O’Brian’s debut novel would keep readers on the edges of their seats if the narrator didn’t make them want to run for cover. The classic detective of Hammett and Chandler novels was, of course, colored with shades of gray, and he’d sacrifice niceties to solve cases, but here, Sully takes that trope too far with his sexist remarks. He constantly demeans women, as when he talks about Lisa’s curvy figure with vulgar slang, then berates her for swearing, since it’s apparently unbecoming of nice girls. Even worse, the women don’t seem to mind his attitude. Lisa occasionally talks back but mostly accepts his judgments, while a female visitor whom he dines with offers to clean up afterward: “That’s woman’s work,” she says. Readers who can stomach the misogyny might enjoy this pulpy, modern detective story, with its many twists and turns, but it could be rough going for some.
An edgy thriller that offends more than it entertains.