In his second novel, the sequel in the Raymond Donne series following the terrific “Sacrifice Fly,” and because of the events which took place in that book, culminating in a four-story drop from a fire escape, Donne is no longer a cop: “It’s not all that rare for cops who’ve been injured on the job to be given promotions and higher paychecks. It wasn’t how I pictured my career path, so I left.” (And this despite the fact that his uncle is the police chief.) For the past several months he has been the dean of the Brooklyn middle school where he used to teach. The interactions of Donne with the students under his care, as well as their parents, is empathetically and realistically shown, owing perhaps to the fact that the author is himself a teacher in the New York City school system.
In the opening pages, Douglas William (“Dougie”) Lee, who had been one of Donne’s students for two years, studying math, literature, history and science, is viciously stabbed to death one night “on the cold, dark tennis courts under the Williamsburg Bridge.” The bridge itself becomes somewhat symbolic in Mr. O’Mara’s hands, metaphorically connecting Brooklyn on one side and Manhattan on the other, and the public housing projects and its gangbangers on either side. Dougie was not quite 17 years old, and despite the fact that at first blush the cops, finding a few bags of pot on the body, believe he was into gangs and drugs, the thought being that he was “just another black boy killed, dealing drugs and hanging around the wrong people,” Donne is convinced otherwise. At the behest of the murdered boy’s mother, Donne promises to try to find the person stabbed the boy a dozen times, and to use his connections with the police and the newspapers in that effort. To that end, it helps that Dennis Murcer, the detective assigned to the case, had gone through the academy with Donne and used to date his sister, and that the very attractive Allison Rogers, the crime reporter assigned to cover the story, agrees to help Donne by keeping up the coverage which would in turn perhaps amp up the pressure on the cops to investigate the crime beyond their initial impressions.
At the time of his death, Dougie had been a scholarship student at a private school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Within a few days of his death, one of his best friends is killed and another is hospitalized. The story takes some very unexpected turns as Donne continues to investigate what was going on in their lives, convinced that these things must be connected. The novel is well-plotted, and the author’s writing “style,” for lack of a better word, makes this a very fast and enjoyable read. It is highly recommended....Continua