An attorney for New York City’s Department of Education, suffused with midlife melancholy, finds new energy and resolve when he helps an acquaintance investigate the long-forgotten murder of her twin sister–part of the Ides of June serial killings.
Trybulski has infused his hero, attorney Doherty, with the time-honored DNA of droll and capably violent private eyes dating back to Mickey Spillane. Doherty has the necessary convenient relationships–as with his best pal, Hank, whose all-around special-ops skills and shadowy morals are similar to such sidekicks as Robert Parker’s Hawk and James Lee Burke’s Clete Purcel. Doherty learns there’s a missing FBI profile of the serial killer and that the murdered twin, remembered by her sister and family as a quiet teacher, had a secret life on the fringes of the New York theater community. Subsequent efforts to retrace the original investigation and find new leads stirs up agitation not just within the Bureau, but also with a Bronx mobster and an Irish hit man. Additionally, Doherty’s love interest, Dana, is ambivalent about their relationship and considering a new job in Boston. As Doherty and Hank follow leads from North Carolina to Florida, adding minutiae to the investigation from a variety of law enforcement and criminal types, Doherty finds himself more invested in life than he’s been in a long time. Whether this new fire can persuade Dana to stay with him–or whether he and Hank can solve the murder before the killer reacts and turns the tables–remains to be seen. Trybulski has created an intriguing plot and likable characters, but his development is spotty–he needs to exercise more wit to match the demands of genre. The dialogue is frequently stilted and too often used as a vehicle to supply details about a character’s past to the detriment of the novel’s momentum. However, the potential is there to develop the story into a titillating ride.
A carefully constructed, if color-by-numbers, thriller.