Dick Wolf’s first novel, The Intercept, introduced Agent Jeremy Fisk of the NYPD anti-terror Intelligence Division. It was a story that played out on a global scale, with cameo appearances from Osama and Obama, among others. Now Fisk returns in a second gripping adventure, The Execution. It’s United Nations week in New York City. Luminaries from around the world converge for a week of speechifying and behind-closed-doors deal-making, a situation that makes for heightened security among every faction of the policing agencies. The recently elected president of Mexico will be on hand for the opening ceremonies, and hot on his trail is La Chuparosa (the Hummingbird), a shadowy assassin named for his calling card, a hummingbird image skillfully carved into the skin of his victims. Mexican Detective Cecilia Garza investigates one such murder in Nuevo Laredo early in the book, and she is soon apprised of a similar one in New York City being investigated by Fisk. Garza’s and Fisk’s investigative styles could not be more different, and when they inevitably meet, they clash at every turn. Each is operating with a separate agenda, and each is determined to include the other only on a need-to-know basis. And in the meantime, lives hang in the balance. Wolf has moved from strength to strength, from his early success as the creator of TV’s “Law & Order” to his more recent incarnation as novelist. Not to be missed!
TO CLEAR HIS NAME
It’s amazing the changes that can take place in one’s life over the course of 10 days. For David Loogan, it meant splitting up with his fiancée, embarking on a new relationship with an intriguing and somewhat mysterious stranger, falling in love with said stranger and then finding himself the primary suspect in her brutal murder. The Last Dead Girl, the prequel to Harry Dolan’s critically acclaimed Bad Things Happen, plucks an ordinary guy from an ordinary life and draws him into an amateur investigation of his lover’s death, an investigation discouraged in no uncertain terms by the cop assigned to the murder. As is often the case where the protagonist is not a trained professional, the investigation suffers from some misdirection. In all fairness, Loogan does a better job getting from point A to point B than his counterpart on the police force. The result is a tense and involving tale, with quite a number of surprises along the way.
REPENT, OR ELSE
It’s 1919. World War I has been over for the better part of a year, but in Germany the aftereffects linger on, nowhere more so than in the city of Breslau, the setting of Marek Krajewski’s atmospheric Phantoms of Breslau. Investigator Eberhard Mock, appearing here in his third outing, suffers more than most from his war experiences. He is plagued with recurring nightmares that keep him awake to the point of being zombie-like by day, unless he self-medicates with alcohol and unsavory encounters with the very prostitutes he is supposed to be investigating. So he’s not pleased when asked to solve a lurid mass murder with homosexual overtones and an accompanying note saying that Mock must repent and apologize or another such slaughter will take place. Problem is, Mock has no idea what he is supposed to apologize for—and a plethora of misdeeds over the years to choose from. Easily one of the most original protagonists of recent (or distant) memory, Mock is by turns amusing and poignant, insightful and cringe-worthy. He moves in a vividly portrayed milieu, and if he is often one step behind the villain, he keeps one step ahead of the reader, which is endlessly entertaining. This is the first Mock book I’ve read, and it won’t be the last.
TOP PICK IN MYSTERY
Like his fictional Yankee counterpart Harry Bosch, Detective Inspector John Rebus cannot seem to stay retired. We thought we had seen the last of Ian Rankin’s beloved cop in 2007’s Exit Music, and indeed Rankin started a new series featuring Internal Affairs cop Malcolm Fox shortly thereafter. But in 2012, Rebus returned as a cold case investigator, and it took him next to no time to run afoul of Malcolm Fox. They are as different as champagne and shampoo, but strained though their relationship may be, they play well off one another, and the reader’s sympathies are tugged this way and that between them. In their latest reluctant collaboration, Saints of the Shadow Bible, Rebus and Fox investigate the possible links between a modern-day murder and the deadly shenanigans of a rogue police force some 30 years ago—the same police force in which Rebus developed his well-deserved reputation for playing fast and loose with the letter of the law. The question is: Can Rebus take part in an honest in-depth investigation without awakening the skeletons in his closet, thereby risking not only his job but his freedom as well? Rankin is in his usual fine form as an author who invariably makes a mystery reviewer’s job a true delight!