As an assistant district attorney in the homicide bureau of the Brooklyn D.A.'s office, first-time author Rob Reuland certainly has the experience to turn out an adequate crime novel. But in the new thriller Hollowpoint, he does much more, taking the reader on a ride that few other lawyer-authors could match.

While keenly aware that his fictive turf is well trod, Reuland has taken a markedly different approach to his journey through it. There is a murder investigation; this is, after all, Reuland's field of expertise. But he has much more on his mind than a police/courtroom procedural. The characters of this novel are struggling to survive against the decay of modern society and their own personal demons. In Reuland's skilled hands, the normal trappings of the criminal justice system give way to a place where we can almost see the flyspecked walls and smell the stale odors of sweat and fear.

Consider Reuland's protagonist. Assistant District Attorney Andy Giobberti, known as Gio, is an emotionally devastated loner who has lost his young daughter in a tragic car accident for which he feels responsible. As the book begins, Gio is assigned to a murder case that is by all appearances a slam dunk. The police have a suspect in custody with a prior criminal record and a connection to the young girl who was shot to death.

Burnt-out and cynical, Gio is willing to push this case through the system, until an off-hand remark by the investigating detective compels him to re-examine the evidence. Gio discovers some uncomfortable parallels between the tragedy of the victim and his own travails. That knowledge offers Gio as well as those touched by the tragic murder an opportunity for redemption.

It isn't fair to pigeonhole this remarkable book as merely a thriller. While Hollowpoint succeeds quite admirably on that level, Reuland writes with enough insight and power to insure that his novel will be appreciated by readers searching for more than mere suspense.

Michael Grollman is a freelance writer in New Jersey.

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