Young Chicago cop is torn between loyalty and doing the right thing when he and his partner are implicated in the murder of a Lithuanian jeweler.
For Officer Ray Weiss, part of the experience of being a “boot,” or rookie, on the force is undergoing an initiation rite in order to prove his allegiance to his fellow cops. Weiss’s assignment—breaking into a jewelry store and stealing a ring for his partner Jack Fiore’s wife—is especially risky, knowing how deeply it would disappoint his straight-edged lieutenant father. But he goes through with the late-night robbery anyway, nearly tripping over the corpse of storeowner Petras Ipolitas. Needless to say, it looks bad for Weiss and Fiori, until the older cop has them track down Ipolitas’s countryman and business rival Jurgis Ambrozas, an illegal immigrant who has a trunk full of firearms. Something about the quick arrest does not sit well with Weiss, though; attractive Detective Sloane Pearson, who enlists his help in the investigation, is also suspicious. Figuring that Weiss is hot for the no-nonsense Sloane (he is), his buddies are uneasy about his cooperation with her, fearing exposure of their petty corruption. And they should be. As Weiss digs deeper, he discovers, among other things, a damning connection between Ipolitas and Fiori, in what appears to be a ring trafficking in young Lithuanian women. For his trouble, Weiss is menaced at home, his front window shot out and the place nearly set ablaze. Feeling confused and betrayed, and fearing for his life, Weiss is then called on to make a difficult choice—if the real killer does not stop him first. What Schwegel’s second novel (after Officer Down, 2005) might lack in innovation it makes up for with convincing local color and the winning depiction of Weiss. Hotheaded, hormonal, yet vulnerable and eager to please, the 23-year-old’s bright future in the genre seems inevitable.
Solidly written coming-of-age tale with an endearing and believable hero.