Harvey has created an interesting mix of hard-boiled noir and the tragic and long-term effect of rape on innocent victims, a legacy that continues to plague society today. Happily absorbed by the recent actions of his favorite baseball team, ex-cop Michael Kelly, now a P.I., is surprised by an old buddy from the force, John Gibbons.
Gibbons has been investigating a cold case that he first worked on years ago, a young woman brutally assaulted and stabbed, left for dead by her assailant. Now Gibbons has received a letter from the victim, Elaine Remington, and needs Kelly’s help in reopening the case.
Kelly is immediately intrigued by the fact that the assailant, although arrested, was released, all evidence of his identity removed from police files. But before Kelly can confer with Gibbons, a TV reporter calls in the middle of the night to get his reaction to the death of John Gibbons, found murdered under a bridge.
Thanks to his police background, Kelly is aware of another potential source of information; although Gibbon’s apartment has been ransacked, another file may exist, a duplicate of the missing one. Thanks to Nicole Andrews, his best friend since childhood and a DNA expert, Michael is able to use the department facilities to process evidence that he discovers by backtracking Gibbon’s investigation.
Using his recent contact at a local TV station, Michael makes a deal with ambitious and attractive anchor Diane Lindsay, sharing information in return for the promise of an exclusive. On the rebound from a broken romance, Michael is uniquely vulnerable to the considerable charms of the journalist, mixing work with pleasure.
What Kelly doesn’t yet realize is how deep this case goes and the extent of duplicity involved; however, he gets some idea of the time bomb he is holding when the name of an infamous serial rapist is injected into the case, not to mention the possibility of corruption higher up.
From the first chapter, when Elaine Remington shows up on Kelly’s doorstep with a nine millimeter in her hand, to the sudden death of his old partner, to a spate of attacks on women over a period of years and, finally, a devastating personal loss, Harvey salts his story with plenty of material to satisfy the most avid noir fan, writing in the crisp dialog of the genre.
Aside from the main action of the story, Harvey takes the time to reveal the consequences of rape on victim’s lives and society at large, his hero made more sympathetic in the process. Blindsided by events at every turn, there is nothing predictable in this novel, a macabre twist added just when it’s coming together. Juggling all these balls in the air is no mean feat, but Harvey is succinct, the brutality swift and shocking, the protagonist barely one step ahead of the one man who keeps a desperate secret in this fast-paced noir and social commentary.