By Michael Wiley
Private detective Joe Kozmarski is hired to play security guard at a new housing construction site that is experiencing its share of burglaries. When the thieves arrive, they turn out to be...cops. After shooting and killing one, Kozmarski is thrown in jail. A buddy on the force, who works as liaison to a civilian based ethical board, then recruits him to infiltrate the gang of thieves to destroy it from the inside. Kozmarski, who is trying to reconcile a relationship with his ex and fighting the temptations of alcohol, drugs, and a sexy partner, soon runs afoul of the FBI who also want a piece of the action. Who can Joe trust and just who's playing who in the bigger scheme of things?
This is a well formulated plot. There's nothing new, but that's okay. In this type of story, you expect things like bad cop power plays, street gangs, a high priced sex club, a tour of Chicago, the obligatory shoot 'em up car chase, and a few plot twists to keep you guessing. I haven't read a gritty PI story in awhile and this is one to remind me why I, and so many other people, have loved these kinds of stories since Spade and Marlowe first hit the mean streets.
Joe Kozmarski – PI, ex cop who got fired for substance abuse, divorced but trying to reconcile with his wife, still is tempted by alcohol and drugs.
While trying to do his job, he looks after his eleven year old nephew
Corrine – Joe's ex wife. Still loves him, but isn't sure whether she loves him enough to endure the trials he endures.
Lucinda Juarez – Joe's partner. She and Joe had a one night affair. She is loyal and will sacrifice to help Joe out on his cases.
Bob Gubman – Joe's buddy on the force. They're still friends (of a sort).
He's relegated to a desk job after being gut shot. Joe feels bad because he think he could have prevented Bob from being shot.
Earl Johnson – Big boss of the bad cop organization. Looking to organize Chicago's gangs under one umbrella.
Bob Monroe – Second in command of the bad cops group. He wants Earl's position.
These are typical characters but still ones you like or else love to hate.
Each is well defined. There are also some good supporting characters such as one of the thieves who is on the fence as to whether he should continue to stay in the gang, Joe's concerned mother, and a prostitute in the sex club for whom Joe wishes were in a different situation.
To the point. No long soliloquies or rambling conversations. What needs to be said gets said without extraneous material. Joe speaks with subtle cynicism without going overboard.
Again – what needs to be said gets said. Short sentences, to the point.
Quick action. No long philosophical moments, but direct 'now' thoughts. You get a good feel for the detective. The story never drags. It's a quick read, but thoroughly enjoyable. The writing is what you expect with this type of story and it doesn't fail.