Former cop John Bekker, the hero of Lamanda’s sobering fourth mystery, took a disability discharge and retreated into alcoholism after his wife was raped and murdered in front of their five-year-old daughter, who hasn’t spoken in the 12 years since and remains institutionalized. Bekker, who was involved in a federal investigation of mobster Eddie Crist, believed Crist or Crist’s son, Michael, was behind the attack, but the culprit was never found. When Crist’s wife is murdered, Crist forcibly dries Bekker out and hires him to find the killer, even though Michael, now deceased, may have been behind the hit. Bekker quickly and accidentally stirs things up enough to earn him a beating with worse to follow. As Bekker re-enters the sober world of personal relationships and reacquires his investigative skills, he proves equal to the daunting task in this violent but redemptive journey. Readers will hope Lamanda (Dunston Falls) brings Becker back for an encore. (May)
A former police officer sunk in the depths of despair is rescued by the mob boss he thinks had his wife killed. John Bekker was working on a special task force investigating organized crime when his wife Carol was raped and brutally murdered in front of their 5-year-old daughter Regan. Bekker goes off the rails and becomes an alcoholic living in a beach trailer on his disability income; Regan, who has never spoken since the crime, lives in a facility catering to her needs. One morning Bekker wakes up in an empty room where he goes through the hell of detox. When he recovers, he finds that he's in the home of Eddie Crist, a mob boss dying of cancer. Crist swears he had nothing to do with Carol's death, although he suspects his hot-headed son Michael may have been involved before his death. Now he wants Bekker to find out who really did it. He provides him with a private investigator's license and all the money he needs. So Bekker reaches out to his former partner Walter Grimes, who allows him access to all the case files. He learns that the police and even the FBI went all out to solve Carol's death and find out who killed Bekker's informant, all to no avail. Bekker reconnects with his former colleagues and his sister-in-law Janet and goes over the case material looking for that one clue that will help him break the case. Suddenly Bekker and his family are targets for a killer determined to bury the truth. The latest from Lamanda (Running Homeless, 2011, etc.) is an exciting thriller filled with tough but sympathetic characters who drag you breathlessly along to the final scene.