A crime drama follows a retired cop’s frustrated search for justice.
Grant Frazier was a veteran detective working for the Los Angeles Police Department before he was recruited to join the Governor’s Commission on Unsolved Cases, also known as the California Cold Case Taskforce. While stopping in a bar for a beer on the way to his forest cabin, he spots Stanley Krakow, someone he’d investigated for serial rape and murder but was never able to get convicted. Frazier knows in his bones that Stanley is guilty, and he confronts him outside the bar, sparking a physical struggle that leaves Krakow dead. Frazier flees the scene, horrified and satisfied by his grim vigilantism. Months later, despondent over the loss of his wife to cancer, Frazier retires, and his son-in-law, also a detective, joins the CCCT and inherits Frazier’s case files. While Mike scrutinizes the files for the possibility of new leads—Frazier always maintained that the key to solving a cold case was buried within those files somewhere—Frazier pursues his own style of retribution, tracking down the murderers the system couldn’t catch. In time, however, Mike finally realizes that the cold-case suspects keep dying, and they’re all linked by Frazier’s long-standing interest in them, setting up the possibility of a final confrontation. O’Donnell (The Wrathful Vintage: A Phil and Paula Oxnard Mystery, 2011, etc.) and debut author Gaylor masterfully catalog the details of the cases, presenting each clue with scrupulous rigor. The prose is lean and powerfully detached at times, like a journalistic chronicle of true crime. Also, the authors deftly show the exasperating distance that often exists between the reasonable certainty that a suspect is guilty and the evidentiary demands of due process.
A thrilling novel, intelligently crafted.