In Dymond’s debut thriller, New York cops fight to bring a murderer to justice when the victim is a fellow officer’s sister.
The murder and mutilation of a Schenectady County woman unnerves local police. She was, after all, Officer Ed Roletti’s baby sister, Mary. Cops question friends and former boyfriends, but it’s evidence at the scene that narrows the suspects. Three of four sets of prints—the fourth unknown—lead to Ed and a couple of ex-lovers. With Capt. Jim Pollack refusing to believe Ed’s the killer and one ex in jail—that leaves only Chucky Dericardo. Some, like Detective Bill Watkins, aren’t convinced that Chucky’s their guy, but most at the police department see enough to justify arresting him for murder. District Attorney Franklin Dorey believes a conviction could improve his career prospects, but he’s understandably on edge when learning that Chucky hired notorious criminal defense lawyer John Upton. An ensuing trial, with no side dominating the other, ends with a jury’s decision, but it’s far from over. Seven years later, a SWAT raid uncovers something that causes everyone to reexamine Chucky’s case. What follows is a number of surprises, including another trial or two and more murder. The novel starts as a procedural before merging into a legal thriller. It’s a subdued mystery, thanks primarily to the plot’s hefty amount of realism. No incriminating clue, for example, points to a probable killer, and the arrest of Chucky is via process of elimination. Chucky, too, may be a viable suspect, but nothing ties him directly to the body. Told from multiple perspectives, there’s consequently no real protagonist; while a lack of viewpoint from Chucky keeps his guilt/innocence a secret but affords him no chance for sympathy. Female characters barely register, like Tammy Smith, sole woman in Jim’s unit, who disappears early. Nevertheless, the men are fascinating, particularly Bill, who obsessively counts his tie’s polka dots while watching the murder trial. And the ending, which wraps up everything, is bound to stick in readers’ heads.
Understated mystery concentrating on a morally ambiguous legal process—and riveting throughout.