eARC, 202 pg.
Read: September 4, 2019
After sitting in a doorway unnoticed for a couple of days, someone finally sees that the homeless man isn’t huddled there for a safe place to sleep, but because he’s been killed. The police begin investigating, determining quickly that he wasn’t killed where he was found—so they know this isn’t going to be a quick case, but things quickly escalate beyond that to make this even more complicated.
Two things happen when they ascertain the identity of the man. First, they learn that he’s a police detective working undercover far from home. Later, when his DNA is checked, they discover a shocking tie between the deceased detective and a cold case murder. The squad investigating the murder is split in direction then—two go undercover themselves to attempt to complete his investigation. The rest follow-up on his murder as well as this cold case, hoping to find a connection.
The undercover operation’s target and the way it’s set up if pretty clever, and not that common, I don’t think, among Crime Fiction (I don’t know, it might be run-of-the-mill in reality). It’s pretty easy for the two new detectives to pick up where their fallen comrade left off—but it’s hard to tell where he was, and how they should proceed in tying their target to this murder. The cold case is even more intricate, and complicated by the space and history between the original crime and the present—this is the highlight of the book, if you ask me—I really enjoyed it. The present-day murder is far less complex once they determine who he is, everything from that point is straightforward (which is not a criticism, even police procedurals need some straightforward cases.
But everything seems too compressed, too easy for the undercover officers to infiltrate enough to get into a trusted position necessary to bring the group down and the murder cases come together pretty easily, too. Everything about the novel—all three cases and the inter-personal character development—seems rushed (and therefore the prose is a little clunky). The characters, also, seemed sketchy and ill-defined (which is a shame, at least 3-4 would be well worth fleshing out). There was a lot of telling, rather than trusting the readers to pick up on subtle showing about them. If the book was another 25-40% longer, I think it would’ve helped tremendously
This book had all the makings of a great read—but it missed. It’s a decent way to spend a few hours, and it’s worth paying for it. I liked it, but I think if Murray had explored things a little, built in some more suspense, and just made all the various officers work a little harder before getting to the closings of the cases, it could’ve been great, not simply good.
My thanks to Bloodhound Books for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including the novel) they provided.