A detective’s search for a missing girl and an Internal Affairs investigation into a corrupt cop slowly converge in Simon’s (A Toxic Assault, 2011, as Ted Simon) procedural drama.
Detective Jessie Sands’ pursuit of a murderer culminates in gunfire, leaving the man dead and her handgun adrift in a river. The shoot is clean, but Sands hopes to redeem herself—losing her gun was a problem—with a big case. She takes a call from a woman concerned about her missing husband, who in turn was looking for the couple’s daughter, Jennifer. The girl’s link to the Caring Arms of Love, a shelter for runaway teens, has ties to Sands’ case as well as newly transferred Bud Prior’s IA assignment to look into an extortion racket. The mystery reflects how people and events are connected to one another; what’s impressive is that the author manages to keep the multiple lines of association from ever becoming entangled. Exceedingly well-established characters are given equal coverage, so there’s no real protagonist. The antagonist, however, is abundantly clear: a shady cop embroiled in seemingly every criminal activity. His true nature is revealed early on for readers, but for the other characters, he’s superlatively portrayed as a presence—the man people remember as chewing a toothpick. The narrative is delivered in a curious, matter-of-fact tone: newspaper articles and victims’ statements are presented verbatim, with no character interpretation; violence, including murder, happens suddenly and ends just as quickly; and cops spend an equal amount of time investigating as they do writing reports. All this combines to add a sense of realism to the story; it’s particularly fascinating to watch Detective Prior consult legal counsel before initiating his own investigation. The unvarnished depictions help readers see everything at face value so that the more provocative sequences—S&M scenes, even a severed head—become merely part of the story instead of detours for shock value. There are intimate touches, too, such as Prior’s personal history and the sparks at home with his pregnant wife. Readers are also treated to a few whimsical lines: One well-respected man apparently “has God on speed-dial.”
Beaucoup drama in a dead-on noir.