THE DEBT by Thomas Brennan


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At first glance, a horror novelist riding along with two NYC cops to prepare his crossover to crime fiction seems like a portrait of his author (The One True Prince, not reviewed). But not at second.

Steve Burnett and Sam Hollis are anything but eager to have a well-known writer in the back seat of their cruiser, but when they’re ambushed, Carl Shaw uses the handgun he’d said he didn’t have to save their lives. “We owe you,” Steve tells Carl, endorsing the story that the gun belonged to Tyrone Cursell, the assailant who can’t refute the claim because (1) he’s already done hard time and (2) he’s dead. But when the gun turns out to have killed grad student Sarah Westlake in Carl’s hometown, Steve decides to drive up to Eastham, Vermont, to convalesce. What he finds doesn’t make him heal any faster. Sarah was studying addictive behavior, and she’d spent three months working for Carl, a recovering alcoholic, and his wife before leaving the night she was shot. Now that Steve’s nosing around, trouble starts up again. His Jeep gets sabotaged, his hotel room is thoroughly tossed and more people die. Throughout it all, Steve acts so much more like a private eye than a patrol cop that he fools everyone from Eastham police chief Gary Petersen on down.

A workmanlike mystery that almost fools Steve but shouldn’t fool you.

Pub Date: Jan. 21st, 2005
ISBN: 1-59414-276-9
Page count: 252pp
Publisher: Five Star
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2004