Rohlfing has the police procedural formula down pat: each crime scene comes across in crisp detail, and the reader is right there with the detectives as they examine every detail of each body. He also shows us the techniques Frank uses to tease out the backgrounds of the victims, even down to how picked locks are investigated. Forensic fans will revel in the comprehensive autopsy details and how they interact with the overall investigation. Occasionally the reader will struggle to recall a character who hasn’t been seen in a while, but the main investigators move smoothly through each murder until the end.
Even among the technical details, the characters still shine as individuals. Detective Frank comes across with a rich personal life, including a girlfriend, two ex-wives, and grandchildren who expect his attention. Scenes where Frank doubts his junior partner’s competence and soothes a prickly medical examiner lend a welcome air of verisimilitude. The author also gives the criminals backstories and their own personal arcs, so their ultimate fates are heartbreaking—they’re not just cardboard villains. The fully realized characters and the impeccably staged investigative scenes guarantee satisfaction to any aficionado of police detective mysteries.
Takeaway: Fans of the traditional police procedural will rejoice in these well-limned investigations, populated by a cast of vibrantly drawn detectives and criminals.
Great for fans of: J.J. Marric’s Commander Gideon series, Joseph Wambaugh, Ed McBain.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A-