Saturday, March 26, 2011
Police Work is Hard, the Russian Mob is Mean 'And Every Man Has to Die'
Author: Frank Zafiro
This novel is the fourth in Frank Zafiro's series about the police of the fictional town of River City, WA (a thinly disguised Spokane, I'm led to believe) and it starts with trouble for one of its major characters. Namely, Officer Katie MacLeod of the River City police who's attacked by a big old mean Russian dude while he's fleeing the scene of an incident. She takes him on alone and takes him down (alone! -- yay, Katie!), but not without breaking her ankle (ouch!) in two places (double ouch!).
But this is just the tip of the iceburg, as they say. Because this Russian works for the Mob and they're bringing big trouble to River City. (No, no ... don't say it. All right. :))
The Russian leader, Sergey, has big plans. He'd like to expand his criminal reach substantially, geographically speaking. Sergey is married to Marina, whose brother is Valeriy, Sergey's assistant. But Val has his own agenda and his own plans within plans within plans ... and he thinks Sergey's reach may be exceeding his grasp. So he's getting ready for when Sergey falls on his face. Maybe.
Meanwhile, back at the River City Police Department, an analyst named Renee is trying to warn the brass about the possible threat posed by the Russian Mob. She's pretty much ignored. So much for that.
Add to the mix a pretty young female rookie with the unfortunate initials of B.J. (yeah, really), who also seems to lack self-esteem, along with some sexual tension between her and a certain recurring character in the series. Sparks fly, but when you play with fire, someone's bound to get burned. (Terrible pun alert. Read the book to find out.)
The FBI, as always, turns up. Due to a federal investigation, which naturally puts everyone on edge.
Okay, complicated enough for you yet?
And I haven't even mentioned the Russian snitch!
Or the gang wars. Okay, okay ... enough already ...
The novel has a complex plot (duh!) that Zafiro has woven together with seeming ease. And that takes great skill.
More to the point, his story and characters are highly authentic. Clearly, Zafiro's previous experience as a police officer informs his work, giving it a truly realistic feel. In addition, he's researched Russian gangs and his efforts show in the clear depictions of their brutal ways.
Further, the novel features an array of memorable characters. Writing about an entire squad room of cops and their superiors and giving each one a distinctive personality is no easy feat. Zafiro pulls this trick off as if it were nothing. It's one of the many things that make this a suspense story of exceptional quality.
Incidentally, two recurring characters, in particular, are affected -- patrol partners Anthony Battaglia and Connor "Sully" O'Sullivan -- and, well ... just read the book ...
Police work is hard, the Russian Mob is mean and every man has to die.
That's it. Read the book to find out more.
The ending was moving and haunted me for days afterward.
PS: On a lighter note, Renee is a pistol, and she gets some of the funniest lines.
PPS: Highly recommended, of course!