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by Simon Kernick

Pub Date: June 16th, 2003
ISBN: 0-312-31401-9
Publisher: Minotaur

“Bent” is in the eye of the beholder in this impressive English debut about a cop run afoul of the law.

Detective Sergeant Dennis Milne, of London’s Metropolitan Police, joined the force because he hates bullies—hates everyone, in fact, who exploits the weak for profit and gets away with it. Lately, however, his war against crime has taken on a darker tinge. Detective Sergeant Milne has been moonlighting as a hit man, blowing away drug dealers and other lowlifes at the behest of a shrewd operator named Raymond Keene, who employs him as an anti-competition device. Does his second job put Dennis beyond the pale? Not in his own eyes. Those he guns down deserve it, he insists, and their departure simply improves the species. And not in the eyes of his immediate superior, who declares that Dennis is a good cop and always has been. “The law’s a straitjacket sometimes,” he acknowledges. But then, inevitably, the copper comes a cropper. He’s tricked into making a mistake, and three innocent people, two of them law enforcement officers, pay the price, complicating his life tactically, morally, and every other way. As Dennis pursues the brutal killer of a pair of teenaged prostitutes, he must duck and dodge the noose tightening around his own neck.

Nicely plotted and briskly paced, with a voice not unlike James M. Cain’s in Double Indemnity.