A brilliant chemistry student is rescued from a criminal life by her professor in Reeves’ (Bada Bing in Brooklyn, 2012, etc.) gritty thriller sequel.
Twenty-something Candy Dyer manages to ace her tests by day while dealing drugs to her fellow students at night. But when she tries to give up her criminal ways, her two business partners feel betrayed, so they sear and deform the left side of her face with a hot iron. Candy’s chemistry professor, Richard Bucceroni, rescues her, and she soon embarks on a tenure-track academic chemistry career at Urban University in Brooklyn, New York. Meanwhile, she seeks revenge on her attackers, tries to sort out her complicated feelings toward Bucceroni, and investigates various murders of faculty members at the college. Along the way, Candy, Bucceroni, and Detective Dom Mancini of the New York City Police Department dodge bullets and knives while also navigating a cutthroat university culture. Bucceroni coaches Candy on the importance of surviving appointment committees and on the internal back-stabbing and back-scratching of academia, such as when Bucceroni advances an untalented professor in order to secure Candy a tenure recommendation. These scenes depict a passive-aggressive version of the real gangland wars that plague Urban U, as students self-segregate by race and battle over turf, even during final exams. This odd noir thriller is part Breaking Bad, part The Big Heat, with a touch of Bridget Jones’s Diary in the mix (although Candy is more worldly, incisive, and violent than Bridget ever was). It’s absurdist and cynical—and it works. Reeves nails the hard-boiled narrative tone by giving Candy an insightful, even winsome tenderness coupled with a sharp, dry wit that’s often delightful. At times, the narration unnecessarily repeats earlier plot points, and there are pages of unattributed dialogue that may confuse some readers. Overall, however, this is a very strong effort that’s fun, touching, and disquieting by turns.
A verbose but engaging crime tale.