Sunday, February 3, 2008

Random Victim-Michael A. Black

Random Victim
Michael A. Black
Leisure, Apr 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780843959864

After insulting a judge who deserved it, Cook County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Francisco “Frank” Leal, still healing from a gunshot wound and the death of his partner, is assigned to a special task force investigating the cold case murder of Miriam Walker. The victim was a judge and prevention of family violence advocate when she vanished; her corpse was found months later inside a trunk. Lieutenant Brice and Sergeant Murphy led the inquiry, but made no headway as they focused on her missing car.

Also on the task force formed by Sheriff O’Hara to silence his election rival Shay are Sergeant Tom Ryan and rookies Joe Smith and Olivia Hart, a perfectly diverse group in time for an election. Brice once again oversees the investigation, but insists on looking at chop shops like he did months ago. Ryan is in charge of the daily operation while he teams with African-American Smith and bodybuilder Olivia joins with Frank. Evidence points to the victim’s spouse financial business guru Martin in spite of his airtight alibi; so ignoring Brice and Ryan Frank and Ollie put pressure on him. Fearing he will crack, his chess strategist secret partner arranges for Martin’s silence.

This is an exhilarating police procedural in which the sheriff needs a task force to shut up his opponent while the brass puts roadblocks to the inquiry. The cast is strong as each of the five prime cops has differing personalities. With several fascinating twists and a romance (not between the police partners) that enhances the tale without slowing it down, sub-genre fans will enjoy Michael A. Black’s superb Chicago investigative thriller and seek his kickboxing sleuth Ron Shade’s entertaining Windy City private investigations.

Harriet Klausner

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