A disgraced cop seizes an unexpected opportunity to redeem his reputation.
Hardboiled narrator Harry Corbin catches the case of a dead Jane Doe found along the East River by a beat cop. Noting that rigor mortis has not yet set in and that the victim has been gutted, Harry takes some photos and concludes that the woman was killed elsewhere and dumped here. Clyde Kelly, an elderly ex-con with a prosthetic leg whom Harry finds near the scene, nervously protests his innocence while describing a 50ish thug with "eyes like slits." Harry sees an opportunity for much-needed redemption in this crime. He's been a pariah ever since blowing the whistle on a clutch of dirty cops in his department. While trying to clear Harry's name, his partner Adele Bentibi, who is also his live-in lover, was beaten by a bad cop named Linus Potter, though she managed to put him away. Now working as an investigator for the Queens DA, she's the ideal sidekick for Harry in the case—and he badly needs her help, since he's iced out of murder investigations by the department. Brooklyn's large immigrant community and a charismatic Catholic priest called Father Stan, who feels a duty to protect them, figure prominently in Harry's probe, which proceeds piece by (initially) baffling piece. As the picture becomes clearer, so does the danger to Harry.
Knightly's gritty prose is sometimes marred by an awkward formality, but his second Harry Corbin novel (Bodies in Winter, 2009) moves with dark deliberation and feels authentic in every detail.