A veteran Washington cop catches an unsavory and complex case that cuts too close to home.
Detective Brian Kavanagh, known as “Brick” because of his red hair, is called to the Tidal Basin with partner Ron Hayes to snag a floating corpse. Rather than wait for the police dive team, they hop a locked fence to retrieve the body. Later, at Boland’s Mill, Brick’s watering hole of choice, he confronts another problem. Crusty proprietor Eamonn Boland’s not at his usual post, regaling patrons; when he finally arrives, the elderly Eamonn looks decidedly unhealthy. He’s beside himself about the absence of Jose, a normally reliable busboy. Brick and Rory, Eamonn’s nephew, go to Jose’s apartment, where they discover his corpse, clearly a victim of murder. Brick manages to coax Jose’s ginger cat, Elvis, out from under the sink, but there’s no sign of the sister Jose lives with. Saddest news of all: She’s the girl in the Tidal Basin. Her name is Maria Delgado, and she’s from Guatemala. Brick and Ron’s investigation begins with interviews of Jose and Maria’s neighbors, a stereotypical array of Hispanic sex offenders, wife beaters, and gang members. The brokenhearted Eamonn, meanwhile, decides to accompany the two young victims back to Guatemala. When Brick finds evidence that Maria may be the victim of a serial killer, he gets little support at his precinct. Must he strike out on his own to find the perp?
Like her D.C. Dirty Harry, Wilson’s debut novel is bluntly effective. It lacks finesse but offers pace and timeliness.