Get Blog Posts Via Email

View RSS Feed


Posts Tagged ‘retired police detective’

THE K TEAM by David Rosenfelt: Book Review

Old friends, new friend, old dogs, new dog.  That’s the cast of characters in David Rosenfelt’s first novel in a new series.  He is also the author of the series that features Andy Carpenter, a lawyer and amateur detective.

The setting of The K Team will be familiar to readers of the Carpenter novels.  It’s Paterson, New Jersey, across the river from Manhattan, and the “new friend” is recently retired Paterson police detective Corey Douglas, with his “new dog” Simon.  Simon isn’t new to Douglas, only to the reader, because he was the detective’s canine partner, and through Andy’s clever maneuvering, Douglas was allowed to take Simon with him when he left the force.

Now Douglas has been approached by Laurie Collins, Andy’s wife and a retired police lieutenant herself, to start a private investigations company to be called The K Team in Simon’s honor.  The team’s third human member is Marcus Clark, according to Douglas, “the toughest, scariest man on the planet.”  With everyone in place, the team is ready for its first client.

Via Pete Stanton, another character familiar to readers of the earlier series, the investigators have a case.  Judge Henry Henderson is a well-respected, if not well-liked, jurist, but he is the recipient of a troubling letter.  The letter tells him that he shortly will be called upon to do a service, for which he already has been paid, but Henderson tells the team that he has no idea who has sent this message or what the service is.

When Laurie asks him about having been paid, Douglas, who is the novel’s narrator, expects another negative answer.  Instead, the judge gives the investigators a statement from a bank in the Cayman Islands, showing an account in his name with deposits totaling over $390,000, going back over eighteen months.  Due to the Islands’ confidentiality laws concerning banking, there is no way to trace who deposited the money, even though it is Henderson’s name on the account.

There is a lot going on.  At the same time we read about the team’s investigation, we also read about a mysterious group of ultra-wealthy men who are engaged in an ultra-secret enterprise.  The judge is being followed, a murder is committed, and Henderson receives a photo that shows him opening the door of what is obviously his hotel room and kissing a young woman who, from her appearance, is a prostitute.

Since The K Team is narrated by Corey Douglas, we are privy to his thoughts and to the decisions he and Laurie make.  However, we do not know the identities of the mysterious men who are behind the scheme, what their purpose is, and how they intend to reach their goal.

David Rosenfelt has written an excellent first entry to his second series.  Although the novel features many familiar characters and settings, it’s told in a fresh voice by a sympathetic protagonist who will draw you into the book and keep you engrossed until the end.

You can read more about David Rosenfelt at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden Oldies, Past Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.

ONION STREET by Reed Farrel Coleman: Book Review


Life in mid-sixties Brooklyn was tough, especially for the lower middle class.  Like Haight-Ashbury, Brooklyn had hippies and drugs.  But it also had bombings and murders.

In 1966, Moe Prager was a student at Brooklyn College, an urban commuter school that was one of New York City’s prestigious tuition-free colleges.  You had to be smart to gain entrance into Brooklyn College, and Moe is smart.  But he’s unhappy too, unhappy with his uninteresting social life, unhappy to be still living with his mother and father and two siblings while he knows that other, more fortunate twenty-year-olds are living in dorms on green campuses and having a true college experience.

Moe’s closest friend is Bobby Friedman, another Brooklyn College student but one who’s not as serious or rule-bound as Moe.  Bobby is out to make money, lots of money, as quickly as possible.  Bobby had been dating the beautiful Samantha Hope, another college student, when she and a friend were blown to pieces in an explosion.  The police believe that the two were killed when a bomb they were planning to throw exploded too soon.  But none of their friends in the college leftist movement believes that their two friends would have been planning to injure innocent people.

Then Moe’s girlfriend tells him to keep away from Bobby, that Bobby’s in danger.  Moe doesn’t believe her, but the following night a car tries to run Bobby down.  Moe pushes him out of the way, and Bobby makes light of the situation in his usual style.  Was it an accident caused by the icy streets, or, impossible as it seems, did someone deliberately try to run the man down?

Moe Prager is a wonderful protagonist.   Onion Street is the eighth book in this series.   There’s always a lot of backstory by the time there are seven previous books in a series, but because this novel is told in flashback, except for the first and last chapters, it will tell you all you need to know about Moe and his relationships.  He’s actually telling this story to his daughter Sarah after they’ve been to Bobby’s funeral, where the rabbi has given the departed a fulsome sendoff.  Obviously, the rabbi didn’t know Bobby as well as Moe did.

Sarah has asked Moe numerous times why he became a cop in the first place, and he’s always avoided telling her the reason.  After the funeral he finally does, starting with the events of 1967.  When he’s finished telling Sarah his story, she says, “I guess those were very different times.”  Moe’s response is succinct:  “Sometimes, when I think back to those days, I can’t even imagine I lived through them.”

I gave a rave review to Innocent Monster, the sixth Moe Prager novel, on this blog in July 2010.  I missed reviewing Hurt Machine, but I’m back in the Moe Prager fold once again.

You can read more about Reel Farrel Coleman at his web site.

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



THINK OF A NUMB3R by John Verdon: Book Review

Imagine if someone told you to think of a number, any number, from one to one thousand. You do, and that person hands you a previously written note with the number you had in mind.  How did he do it?  It’s not your age, your house number, the number of children you have, the year you were born–it’s just a number that you pulled from the top of your head.  How did he know the number you would choose? This is the problem that opens Think of a Numb3r by John Verdon.

Retired police detective Dave Gurney is trying to settle down to a peaceful life with his wife in a small village in upstate New York. Out of the blue he gets an e-mail from a college classmate, a man he hasn’t heard from in more than twenty years.  The letter’s author is Mark Mellery, now a well-known author and director of a nearby spiritual retreat, and in his letter he asks for Gurney’s help.  Reluctantly Gurney agrees to see him the following day, and when Mellery arrives he explains what is troubling him.

Years ago Mellery had a serious alcohol problem, and there are black holes in his memory, weeks and weeks of which he has no memory.  It’s been years since he’s taken a drink, but now he has received a letter in which the letter writer appears to know some secret from that time.

To prove that he knows all about Mellery, the letter writer asked him pick a number from one to one thousand; Mellery picked six fifty eight, a number he swears to Gurney simply came to him with no association to any part of his life.  When he opened the envelope that was enclosed in the letter, the number six fifty eight is what was written.  Of course, part of Mellery’s problem is that the number has no association to any part of his life that he remembers, given the many alcoholic blackouts he had, and he’s now convinced that the letter writer knows some disreputable secret about his past.

He refuses Gurney’s suggestion that he go to the police, saying that that would be a lose-lose situation: either they’ll treat the whole thing as a joke or they’ll start poking around his Institute for Spiritual Renewal, upsetting his clients, and that would be worse.

Reluctantly Gurney tells Mellery he’ll look into the problem–there has to be a simple solution, no one could possibly have known what number he would choose. Then Mellery receives a phone call in which he’s asked to pick another number.  He chooses nineteen, again for no apparent reason, and is told to go to the mailbox outside his home and open the envelope that’s there.  He does, and there’s a slip of paper inside with the number nineteen written on it.  And then Mellery is killed.

This novel is truly a thriller. The reader knows there has to be some logical explanation for the numbers game and for the bizarre way that Mellery is murdered–shot, his throat slashed numerous times, footprints in the snow leading away from the body and then simply disappearing, and a chair abandoned in the middle of a snow-covered lawn with cigarettes strewn around it.  Unless you’re a believer in ESP, which Gurney isn’t, you have to believe there’s a logical explanation.  But what is it?

Think of a Numb3r is an incredible debut. The plotting is fast-paced, page-turning, and the various characters that Gurney encounters in his search for Mellery’s killer ring true.  And Gurney’s strained relationship with his wife and his difficulty in truly leaving behind his sleuthing days are well written and believable.

You can read more about John Verdon in this interview.