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Book Author: Rory Flynn

THIRD RAIL by Rory Flynn: Book Review

Third rail, a symbol of danger.  According to Wikipedia, “the electric rail threatens electrocution of anyone wandering or falling onto the tracks.”  As a metaphor, it’s perfect for the life of Eddy Harkness–dangers surround him at every turn.

Formerly a high-profile narcotics detective on the Boston police force, Eddy became the butt of a thousand jokes when he failed in his attempt to save a man from being thrown off a bridge.  The tragedy was captured digitally by onlookers and put on YouTube where, as they say, it went viral. 

After that, there was no way that the Harvard Cop, as Eddy was known, could remain in the city; he was placed on a year’s unpaid administrative leave.  The police captain of his hometown, Nagog, offered him a patrolman’s job for the year, and Eddy was glad to accept. 

Much of Third Rail revolves around Eddy’s search for his missing gun.  The morning following a drunken, drug-riddled party, Eddy wakes up at his girlfriend’s apartment to discover that his Glock is missing.  Retracing their steps from the party to the apartment yields nothing, and Eddy knows that a lost or stolen gun could be the end of his career in Nagog.  So he goes into the town’s small variety store, owned by an old friend, and gets a plastic gun similar in style to his Glock.  And he hopes no one will notice the toy gun and hopes that he won’t need to use it.

In this novel, Third Rail is the name of a new designer drug that is about to hit the streets.  Unlike other drugs that make the users forget things, Third Rail “rewrites history and unmakes the mistakes,” according to an expert Eddy interviews.  Although that sounds positive, when the drug wears off the users experience anhedonia, the inability to experience pleasure.  That means they must search for bigger thrills, bigger risks, in order to feel something, anything.  And that can lead to some dangerous pursuits.

There are a lot of threads in Third Rail.  In addition to Eddy’s search for his missing gun (losing one’s weapon may lead to dismissal from the police force) and the possibility of the new drug becoming readily available in Nagog, he is also contending with a corrupt politician’s run for mayor of Boston, his own suspicions about his drinking-and-drug-taking girlfriend, his hair-tempered brother, his dementia-suffering mother, and the memory of his larcenous father who committed suicide rather than face an investigation and prison.  Oh, and a Laotian gangster who deals in drugs and underage Thai girls.

The characters in the novel are fascinating, and the plot is fast-paced and believable.  There doesn’t seem to be anyone in the book without flaws; certainly Eddy Harkness has more than his share.  But he also has virtues and strengths in his ability to know right from wrong and his desire to make both Nagog and Boston better places than they currently are.

Third Rail is the first in a proposed series, and I am certainly looking forward to seeing Eddy Harkness back in action.

You can read more about Rory Flynn at this web site.  You can also view a trailer for the book on YouTube.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.