After 20 years in jail for a murder he may not have committed, a man is pursued by the detective who put him away.
In this cop-and-robber tale, Blauner (The Last Good Day, 2003, etc.) does admirable work trying to get inside the robber’s head, leaving readers truly mystified as to whom the good guy might be until the jaw-dropping conclusion. Back in 1983, a young doctor was murdered in the apartment building where 17-year-old Julian Vega’s dad was the super. Julian’s blood was found at the scene and he had no alibi. Zealous interrogation by eager young detective Francis X. Loughlin elicited other damning details that got the boy convicted. After two decades in jail, Julian is released (but still presumed guilty) when a judge rules that his lawyer gave him bad counsel. While he’s having a hell of a time acclimating, another young doctor is murdered under similar, suspicious circumstances. Loughlin suspects the man he nailed 20 years ago, but a DNA test finds that the blood at the new murder scene belongs not to Julian but to the woman he supposedly killed in 1983. Blauner switches between the two men, each floundering in his own way. Francis is the classic overextended NYPD dick: trying to keep his addictions to alcohol and danger under control, holding out for that pension and slowly going blind as well. Julian is the same mixed-up, socially miscast teenager who went to jail, now hardened and reflexively violent, with a grudge against the world. Both have something to prove—Francis that he didn’t convict the wrong man, Julian that he’s not a killer—and for both, the other man stands in his way.
A gripping crime story with an unusually powerful sense of character.