Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Front-Patricia Cornwell

The Front
Patricia Cornwell
Putnam, May 2008, $22.95
ISBN: 9780399154188

Working as a homicide investigator for the Massachusetts State Police Win Garano is currently assigned to Middlesex County District Attorney Monique Lamont, a power hungry, ball-busting political beast. She is opposed to the Front, a coalition of police departments that come to each other’s aid like fire departments do; this provides a center of excellence built on an economy of scales as they do not need to duplicate labs or police specializations. Monique sees the outcome of this trend as lessoning her power so to hell with the citizens as that will not be allowed to happen.

Monique assigns Win to the cold case of a blond British woman living in the Commonwealth who was killed four decades ago. She orders him to look into a possible link between that homicide and the Boston Strangler. Win works with Watertown Detective Stump, who refuses to deal with either the State cop or Monique. Win catches her telling many lies, which makes him wonder what she hides and if it is connected to the inquiries. Stump is working on a case where a bank robber leaves a letter with no fingerprints on it and he is not wearing gloves. She is also working a case where copper is being sold illegally. In an ironic twist the bank robbery case is solved with Win’s help but Monique might be in trouble and is not as tough as she appears because she fears her mistakes will surface to cost her what she holds dear.

THE FRONT is a powerful dramatic police procedural novella that packs as strong a punch as the Scarpetta saga does. Win feels insecure at times due to the machinations of his boss who is a Massachusetts Lady Macbeth. The audience will adore and admire Win though he is a beta male working for an alpha female. Monique on the other hand will be detested not because of her tough dominating personality, but for putting her ambition over what is good for the State. Fans will enjoy this solid whodunit while hoping Win wins and Monique gets her comeuppance.

Harriet Klausner