Butch Karp’s 17th slate of cases runs the gamut from greedy criminals trying to railroad innocent citizens of the City of New York to terrorists plotting to blow the whole shooting match sky-high.
Twelve years after a gang of five Coney Island kids raped new mother Liz Tyler and left her for dead, a sixth man, a lifer at Rikers, has confessed to the crime and claimed he was her only assailant. Egged on by politically ambitious attorney Hugh Louis, who demands their immediate release from prison, Jayshon Sykes and his posse promptly sue the city for $250 million. Since pusillanimous Kings County District Attorney Kristine Breman has already caved, the mayor-elect leans on Butch, now New York’s Acting District Attorney, to defend the city. Meanwhile, Marlene Ciampi, Butch’s wife, has gotten involved in another rape case, taking up the cudgels for Alexis Michalik, a visiting Russian professor accused by NYU graduate student Sarah Ryder of drugging and assaulting her. Both cases seem explosive, but they may not amount to a hill of beans compared to (1) the hints that David Grale, the murderous vigilante social worker who’s returned from death to stalk the dreams of Butch’s daughter Lucy, may be literally alive, and (2) a plot by Muslim terrorists to blow up Times Square at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Veterans of the long-running series (Hoax, 2004, etc.) will know, however, that Tanenbaum is a lot more compelling when he concentrates on the political dimensions of ordinary felonies than when he kicks it up a notch by dragging in international terrorists and millennialist messiahs. Most of the characters in this installment are so broadly drawn and their allegiances so black and white that it’s pretty obvious how things will end up.
Tanenbaum writes such a mean page that the faithful will keep turning them anyway. The epilogue is guaranteed to keep fans hanging from a cliff till next year.