The Twenty Year Death by Ariel S. Winter
~Post by Chris
Most writers have enough trouble coming up with a solid idea for a first novel that they tend to keep things simple. Most writers are not Ariel S. Winter. A newcomer to the world of crime fiction, Winter has managed to deliver a debut novel that is both broad in scope and painfully simple in message.
As an avid reader of modern and vintage crime fiction I will admit to being a bit skeptical when I read the press release for The Twenty-Year Death, Winter’s first novel for powerhouse publisher Hard Case Crime. The initial press for The Twenty-Year Death heralds it as a masterwork of storytelling that rivals the best crime writing of this or any age, but press releases are designed to do one thing and one thing only, sell books; and all the glowing reviews in the world couldn’t scare away my hesitation.
Burrows by Reavis Wortham
The second book is a strong litmus test for an author and his series. We get a clearer idea of the long road they plan to take us down. Burrows, Reavis Wortham’s follow up to the The Rock Hole, passes with flying colors. Not only did he surpass his previous book, he made me reevaluate it it as the first few stitches in a Texas tapestry featuring farmer and town constable Ned Parker.
Burrows starts soon after The Rock Hole. Top, Ned’s grandson and part time first person narrator of the books, is trying to get over the encounter he had in the first story. Ned has retired and turned over his badge to his nephew, Cody, a former tunnel rat in Vietnam. When a group of thrill killers come to town, Ned volunteers to help out.
Death Makes the Cut by Janice Hamrick
Last year Janice Hamrick debuted with Death On Tour, a book that won the Minotaur/MWA First Novel competition and introduced us to Austin high school teacher Jocelyn Shore who had to solve a murder on her discount tour through Egypt. The book’s mix of Hitchcock style thriller and romantic comedy, infused with Hamrick’s eye for human detail, made a great read for fans of light mysteries as well as winning over some of us hard boiled fans. With her latest, Death Makes The Cut, Janice Hamrick proves that it wasn’t just beginner’s luck.
In the first book, Jocelyn mentions her experiences as a teacher helps her solve the crime. In the new book, Hamrick puts Jocelyn right in her element with the murder of the tennis coach on the first day of school. The plot deals with possible drug dealing, a Twilight-like movie being shot on campus, school politics and angry parents all putting her own life in jeopardy.
The Joy Brigade by Martin Limon
The Joy Brigade is something of a departure for Martin Limon, the creator of the George Sueño & Ernie Bascome series. The series is a unique twist on the cop buddy story with Ernie and George being Army CID cops having to navigate the culture of nineteen-seventies South Korea where they are stationed. This time he focuses on Sueño with a spy adventure that takes him into North Korea.
With Kim Jong Il taking over as supreme leader, there is fear that an invasion into the South is imminent. Two tunnels for a forward army have already been discovered. George is sent over the border in the guise of a Warsaw Pact member to link up with a contact who has a map of the tunnel system. For Sueño there is a personal side to the mission. The contact is Doc Young, a former lover who may have given birth to his son.
From Blood by Edward Wright
Edward Wright is one of the most undervalued writers in crime fiction. His noir-toned series with black balled B movie cowboy turned unlikely postwar LA investigator John Van Horn should be republished instantly. Those whohave picked up his work have become fast fans. He has a way of expressing themes and emotion like no other, threading them through the well paced story like a master craftsman. Wright’s latest, the gritty thriller From Blood, is no exception.
The story follows Shannon Fairchild, the smart but troubled adult daughter of two college professors. Her life is upended when her parents die in a violent house explosion. The last words she hears from her mother are “Find them, warn them.”
Bloodline by James Rollins
I read that James Rollins grew up on Doc Savage, the bronze tinted pulp hero of brains and brawn who trotted the globe fighting some very weird forms of evil with a group of eccentric specialists. In reading his latest Sigma Force book, Bloodline, it comes as no surprise. Rollins has created the the closest thing there is to modern pulp (and that’s absolutely a compliment.)
Rollins introduces us to two events right off the bat. One takes place in the year 1134 with a female member of The Knights Templar as she comes to the bloody end of a quest. The other brings us up to the present as an assassin prepares to take out the President in four days. The killer is Sigma Team commander Grey Pierce.
The Kings of Cool by Don Winslow
Don Winslow is one of the most fearless writers out there. He pushes the stylistic side of the genre. While others play with point of view, he will switch form from his tight prose, to poetry, screenplay, he’ll even give dictionary definitions for chapters. This practice and his short, punchy chapters could be tossed off as MTV writing, but it expresses a lot. This is where genre fiction and experimental novel meet. What is even more amazing is how accessible his writing is. His latest, The Kings Of Cool, is no exception.
Some of us were apprehensive about him doing a prequel to his break-out book Savages, the story of high-end marijuana dealers Ben and Chon trying to get their mutual girlfriend, O, back from a Mexican cartel that wants to take them over. On the surface the prequel seemed like an attempt to cash in on previous success and the film version of Savages. We forgot Don always goes beyond the surface. Here he uses the origin story for something grander.
In the Pursuit of Spenser edited by Otto Penzler
It can be argued thatRobert B. Parker’s Spenser series has been the most influential mystery series in the last fifty years. He introduced so many tropes to the PI genre, that authors who have never read him (or even claimed to have not cared for his work) have used some of them. In Pursuit Of Spenser, a collection of essays by some of the best mystery writers around, is a fun and smart look at the man, his work, and the art of crime fiction.
Many authors look at specific elements of the Spenser novels. Gourmet cook and author Lindsey Faye shows how Spenser’s feelings are expressed through food. SJ Rozan gives a sharp comentary on controversial girlfriend Susan Silverman. Gary Phillips‘ dissection of bad-ass side-kick Hawk also serves as a great mini-history of black crime fiction. Parenell Hall basically gives a workshop on wisecracks, focusing on the books use of humor.
The Lost Ones by Ace Atkins
With his Edgar nominated The Ranger, Ace Atkins gave us Quinn Colson, an Afghanistan war vet who returns to Mississippi ready to clean it up by any means necessary. He was was an updated version of a hero that walked off a seventies southern drive-in screen. Atkins mixed subtle social commentary with pulp crime and a touch of classic western themes, creating some of the smartest escapism between two covers. With his follow up, The Lost Ones, he tells us the fun’s just started.
We now find Quinn as a newly elected sheriff of Tibbehah County, dealing with a black market baby operation run by a Mexican cartel. The cartel is being supplied with guns, thanks to recurring villain Johnny Stagg (picture a more dangerous version of Boss Hogg with less charm). Operating between Stagg and the cartel is Donnie Verner, an old running buddy of Quinn’s who’s back from the war and looking for action.
The Seven Wonders by Steven Saylor
~Post by Chris M.
In order to give you an accurate review of my experience with Steven Saylor’s latest novel, I must be honest; historical fiction is not my cup of tea. That being said, mysteries and private investigators are most definitely a cup of tea that I willingly guzzle all the time, and in The Seven Wonders Saylor seamlessly blends the scope and detail of top quality historical fiction with the suspense and brutishness of a good mystery.
The Seven Wonders is a prequel to Steven Saylor’s long running mystery series featuring ancient Roman private eye Gordianus the Finder. This being my first experience with Saylor’s work, I was a bit worried that this novel would leave me feeling like an outsider due to my lack of prerequisites, but that was most certainly not the case. An older, wiser Gordianus narrates the novel, and Saylor does an excellent job of illustrating the youthful wonder of a young man who is seeing the world for the first time. Because of this, the novel feels like the untold beginning of tales of Gordianus, and as a reader I felt welcomed into a strange new world because the world being described is strange and new to the young Gordianus.
Alpha by Greg Rucka
~ post by Joe T.
I first discovered Greg Rucka a few years ago when I chanced upon the first volume of his Queen and Country graphic novel series at my local Half-Price Books. An unofficial sequel to an obscure 1970s BBC spy show called Sandbaggers, it was an amazing comic and the best espionage novel I’d read in a long, long time. I was hooked and, after finding out that Rucka was a novelist, I proceeded to hunt down his books.
I read the Atticus Kodiak novels. An interesting collection of novels centered around a bodyguard to the rich and powerful, I enjoyed them but they seemed to lack a certain “frisson” that was found in the Queen and Country and, by the end, the series had turned into something else entirely. Then I read the Tara Chase books, based on the main character in the Queen and Country comic. I found them static and wordy, everything that the comic wasn’t. I was beginning to think my love for Rucka’s work was a fluke, a one-off, and then I read his newest novel (and the first in a new series) called Alpha.
Astride a Pink Horse by Robert Greer
Astride A Pink Horse is a unique stand-alone from Robert Greer. Set in an area of Wyoming where a military base sits next to ranches, it shows an interesting clash of cultures in the modern West as well as deals with some ugly parts of our history. That said, Greer’s pacing and his team of likable heroes make it a fun read.
The book starts with the body of an Air Force veteran found in a missile silo, a novel crime with many avenues it can go down. Looking into this odd situation is “Cozy” Cosea, an online reporter with the laid back charm of a Miles Davis solo, and Bernadette Cameron, an air force major trying to find the security breach that got the body on the base. Together they form an alliance that they maybe shouldn’t have, interviewing cowboys, peaceniks, high-techs, and Japanese internment camp survivors.
Lullaby by Ace Atkins
Tight prose style – check
Well executed fist-fights and shoot-outs – check
Smart aleck asides – check
Bad guys, both honorable and heinous – check
Sexy lived-in relationship with Susan Silverman – check
Great banter with Hawk – check
Macho yet sensitive knight errant of the streets back in prime – double check
In Lullaby, Ace Atkins has brought back everything we love about Robert B. Parker’s Boston P.I. Spenser, and he makes it look seamless and easy. Friends of Ace’s were excited when Parker’s widow, Joan, picked him to continue the series. I can’t think of a bigger fan or a better author with the necessary skills to pull it off. Ace gives us Parker’s voice without being a mimic.
The German by Lee Thomas
Since its release least year, Lee Thomas’ The German has been building steady buzz among readers who are up for provoking, intelligent genre material. Initially championed in the horror and gay fiction circles, it deserves a wider range of readers as it uses a historical setting to probe contemporary themes.
On the surface, it is a serial killer novel. Someone is killing and skinning boys in a Texas Hill Country town during World War Two. He leaves snuff boxes in their mouths with notes written in German.
Ghosting by Kirby Gann
~ post by Kester
Fleece Skaggs has disappeared. So have the drugs he was meant to sell for his boss, Lawrence Gruel. The dealer seems concerned and confused about his employee and his hash, but Fleece’s half-brother, James Cole can’t decide if Gruel is sincere. In the hope of finding out just what happened or is happening, James Cole offers to work for Gruel in his brother’s place. And we’re off and running.
The story is strong, but it is Kirby Gann’s carefully crafted cast of characters that sets his newest book so far ahead and apart. Ghosting is rural noir on par with Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone and Donald Ray Pollack’s The Devil All The Time. The pacing is perfect; a slow burn that threatens to end in an explosion. The tone is both moody and mysterious, and yet infused with the sort of humor one might find in an Elmore Leonard western.
Prague Fatal by Philip Kerr
~Post by Joe T.
Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther novels are a marvel to behold. Marrying the cynical world-weariness of a Dashiell Hammett to the cynical moral relativism of a John Le Carre, each book attempts to be the perfect summation of noir fiction. Oh yeah, and they’re a blast and a real treat to read.
One of the many joys of the series is how it does not unfold in chronological order. Each book is capable of filling in gaps in the life of Bernie Gunther, one time private investigator, oft times cop, and unintentional SS member in Nazi Germany. 2011’s Field Gray was the apotheosis of this approach, featuring narratives nestled within narratives spanning the time from 1931 to 1954. It was, perhaps, the high water mark of the series.
Kings of Midnight by Wallace Stroby
Wallace Stroby introduced us to heist woman Crissa Stone last year in Cold Shot To The Heart. The book earned Stroby some of his best reviews. Now he brings Crissa back in Kings Of Midnight, a more than worthy successor to the first book.
Crissa is still trying to steal enough money to grease the political wheels necessary to spring her lover and mentor from prison. The book opens with a slam-bang ATM robbery. When her cohorts argue after the job, guns are drawn and it goes bad and bloody, putting Crissa on the run. A contact hooks her up with Benny Roth, a former gangster turned stool pigeon. Benny thinks he knows where five million from the famed Lutfhansa Heist (Remember the big score in Goodfellas?) is located. Two problems – it’s in the possession of a notorious wiseguy, and Benny’s not completely sure about it. Desperate, Crissa takes on a score and partner she can’t completely trust.
Edge of Dark Water by Joe Lansdale
It’s always a thrill to get the latest Joe R. Lansdale book. He is one of the most most entertaining and engaging authors out there with a style all his own. Like Elmore Leonard, even his “weaker” books outshine the complete works of others. At his best, a Lansdale book can be a religious experience. Get ready to see the light with his latest, Edge Of Dark Water.
The book is reminiscent of his coming of age tales The Bottoms and A Fine Dark Line, with a darker tone. It begins when Sue Ellen, a sixteen year old in Depression era Texas, finds her friend May Lynn’s body in the Sabine River tied to a sewing machine. She tells her two other pals, Jinx and Terry, about it. Since all three see no future where they are, they decide to burn May Lynn’s body, go down river on a raft with her ashes, get a ride to Hollywood, and deliver the remains to the town where she planned to be a movie star. At the last minute Sue Ellen’s alcoholic mother forces her daughter to take her along. To finance the trip they come across money hidden from a bank robbery that put a crooked constable and his demented henchmen, Skunk, on their trail.
The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura
It’s no surprise Fuminori Nakamura’s The Thief won The OE Prize, one of Japan’s biggest literary awards. Both a crime thriller and character study, it is a unique and engrossing read, keeping a distant yet thoughtful eye on the people it follows.
The story itself is relatively simple, in fact the main character is only known as The Thief. He’s been living a low-risk criminal life as a pickpocket who hits Tokyo’s more high toned areas, making himself as unnoticeable as he can. It’s a practice that has lead him to be detached from life and people. That is until he spots a boy trying to pickpocket with less finesse. At the same time, an old accomplice pulls him into his plan for a home invasion. When the robbery goes wrong and it looks to be part of a political assassination, The Thief begins to see himself as a protector of the boy and his sex worker mother, developing emotions at a time when he needs them the least.
Pineapple Grenade by Tim Dorsey
When it comes to comic crime novels, few stand out more than those written by Tim Dorsey and featuring his character Serge. Serge, a so-crazy-he’s-brilliant vigilante and trivia master, brings mayhem and murder to those who ruin his beloved Florida. He and his cannabis-consuming buddy Coleman ride a wave of Donald E. Westlake-style humor as they fight for truth, justice, and marijuana legalization. In his latest misadventure, Pineapple Grenade, Serge enters the world of espionage.
Along with becoming a pen pal to Sarah Palin, Serge has taken up being a spy, doing it as a hobby until someone hires him. With The Summit of The Americas taking place in Miami, the hobby leads him to a bed of intrigue. It involves the assassination plot of a South American leader, the CIA, carjackers, a Homeland Security head looking for a new color to frighten people, and a sexy spy who wants Serge. All revolve around our crazy hero, turning him into the sane one. Oh, and I almost forgot about the shark in the middle of the street.
The Comedy is Finished by Donald E. Westlake
Donald E. Westlake was a master craftsman, developing his skills in the paperback era of the ’50sand ’60s. His stories moved with distinct characterization and pace no matter the genre. That and his wicked sense of humor earned him respect from his peers and the generations of writers who followed him. We lost him on New Years Eve of 2008, but luckily a lost manuscript, The Comedy Is Finished, got into the capable hands of Hard Case Crime publisher Charles Ardia. While it has everything we expect from Westlake, the book is a bit of a departure.
He uses a kidnapping story to look at a brief but monumental time period, the mid-70′s. Koo Davis, a comedian in the Bob Hope tradition, is taken before the taping of his television show. His abductors are SLA style revolutionaries demanding their counterculture warriors be set free. FBI Special Agent Mike Wiskiel sees the case as a way to get back into the bureau’s good graces after being transferred when the Watergate scandal touched him.
The Plot Against Hip Hop by Nelson George
Before I say anything about this book, I have to admit that I am not a fan of rap. It’s a legitimate form of music and art that I’m just not into. However, the story and possible insight Nelson George’s The Plot Against Hip Hop offered (and the fact that it’s on the high quality Akashic label) intrigued me to pick it up.
George gives us a truly unique tough guy hero in D Hunter, a security expert specializing in the hip hop community. Street tough with a harsh personal history (his brother was shot by the police and Hunter is HIV positive), survival has made him knowing and respectful of life. He also shows a love for the music that he grew up with and that pays his bills, yet has a clear eye of the personalities involved.
Country of the Bad Wolves by James Carlos Blake
James Carlos Blake has looked at men who mirror our nation’s past, starting with his look at gunman John Wesely Hardin (The Pistoleer). He’s looked at Civil war guerrilla Bloody Bill Anderson in the lyrical The Wildwood Boys and John Dillinger in the tough and funny Handsome Harry. His worlds are filled with brutal crime and adventure and men that must be accepted own their own terms. Sam Pekinpah would have loved adapting any of his novels of earthy poetry. In his latest, Country Of the Bad Wolfes, he takes story to a grander and more personal scale, basing the novel on two sets of twins who are his own ancestors and covering two countries and one century.
Born of a New England pirate in 1828, Samuel and Roger Wolfe have a wanderlust and need for fortune in their blood. Their lusts and their disposition to get into a fight put them into one adventure after another, and on the other side of the law many a time. To avoid imprisonment, Samuel joins the army and fights in The Mexican War while his brother attends Dartmouth. Their skills, will, and fate lead them to Little, a mysterious businessman who sets them up in Mexico. There they find themselves involved in US adventurism and Diaz, the country’s president. Both find themselves in more than a few duels and seducing a more than a few lovely ladies.
The Innocent by Taylor Stevens
VANESSA MUNROE IS NOT THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO!
This really needs to be stated. With publishers marketing to the latest big thing and book critics who lack knowledge of crime fiction writing about the genre, authors and their characters often get unfairly lumped together with previous big hitting books. This happened in early 2011 when Taylor Stevens debuted Ms. Munroe in the New York Times bestselling thriller The Informationist and critics compared her work to Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. The damaged and deadly female character has been around long before Stieg Larsson came on the scene, in fiction by the likes of Carol O’Connel, Val McDermid, and Karin Slaughter. Stevens evolved the character type into someone completely unique in The Informationist, and continues to do this in her latest adventure, The Innocent.
Munroe’s job is as an informationist, a combination Mercenary, corporate spy, PI, and bad ass librarian. She is able to get all the information on anything or place – if you can afford her. It’s a gig that can take her anywhere, to do anything with her talents, which are unique. Stevens delivers the cool yet intense precision of a heist novel when you watch Munroe work.
Troubled Bones by Jeri Westerson
In most of my reviews about crime fiction, I’ve praised the book’s social awareness or look at the human condition. Of course, we also read genre fiction for fun and few have been demonstrating that fun better lately than Jeri Westerson with her series featuring fourteenth century London “tracker” Cripsin Guest. The disgraced former knight and his young apprentice, Jack Tucker, see enough mean streets danger and swashbuckling heroism to satisfy both hard boiled and historical mystery fans. Their latest outing, Troubled Bones, proves no exception.
The story starts with a skillful and funny exposition as Crispin and Jack ride to Canterbury. Crispin has been hired by the arch bishop to protect the bones of Thomas Beckett from a possible traitor in the monastery. On arrival, Crispin meets up with an old friend, court poet Geoffery Chaucer. Soon the bones are stolen and a murder occurs, Chaucer being accused of both.
The Burning Soul by John Connolly
John Connolly’s Charlie Parker is unique to crime fiction’s damaged and haunted private eyes, in the sense that he is truly haunted. After losing his wife and child, Parker finds himself on cases where human evil entwines with the supernatural. Connolly avoids snaggle toothed demons, instead using a subtlety that makes the supernatural elements almost unrecognizable from the criminal acts in the book and therefore all the more chilling.
Connolly barely uses the supernatural in the latest Parker book, The Burning Soul, which is twisted enough from the start. Charlie is hired by Randall Haight, a man who, along with another boy, killed a young girl in his youth. Given a new identity by a judge when released from juvie, Haight sets up a normal, law abiding life for himself in Pastor’s Bay, Maine. But lately someone has been sending Haight unsettling photos of barn doors, including one of the barn where the girl was killed. If that isn’t enough, Anna Kore, a girl the same age as the one Randall killed, has gone missing in Pastor’s Bay.
The Outlaw Album by Daniel Woodrell
When the film Winter’s Bone came out, fans of the book were happy for two reasons. First, it was a rich, well made, and faithful adaptation of the novel, and second, we all thought “Finally, everybody will know Daniel Woodrell.”
Daniel Woodrell’s writing came to my attention through all the writers I admired.George Pelecanos, Dennis Lehane, Meagan Abbott; Woorell was their favorite. The great James Crumley was a suppporter. When practically every idol I had sung his praises, I finally picked up a copy of Winter’s Bone.
Most readers love Woodrell for his use of language. It is concise and poetic at the same time. He uses the exact right words economically. He doesn’t seem to do it for pace like a suspense writer, he does it to relate the exact feel and tone, like a poet. It’s about hitting directly, yet subtly, to the emotions.
Shock Wave by John Sandford
John Sandford has pulled off a major feat with his fishing-obsessed, Bible quoting Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agent, Virgil Flowers. Originally a supporting character in Sandford’s popular Lucas Davenport books, Flowers has become just as well loved by readers with his own series. Sandford’s brilliance was taking that quirky character, who also had more dimension than the usual sidekick, and bringing him to the forefront. Flowers is also thought to be a little more relatable than Davenport.
In the latest Flowers book, Shock Wave, Virgil is interrupted while watching a Minnesota-style women’s beach volleyball game (in a barn in the middle of spring, with pale, stocky Minnesota girls as opposed to tan, thin California beach bums) to look into a series of bombings. He goes to the scene of the latest explosion in the town of Butter Nut and is thrown into a team including an explosives expert, local and state police, a Native American lawyer, and a sexy scuba diver with a snake tattoo. Much of the book’s fun is watching Flowers’ work and his interactions with this motley yet incredibly professional crew. It reminded me a lot of Tommy Lee Jones’ group of marshals in the movie The Fugitive, only a little less alpha male.
Back of Beyond by C. J. Box
For years CJ Boxhas delivered one engaging read after another with his put-upon game warden Joe Pickett. His consistency had many of us taking him for granted. That ended when his first stand-alone, Blue Heaven, was published. The book’s carefully sculpted time frame and somewhat darker overtone earned him a reexamination of his work by readers, as well as The Edgar award. It also pushed him into the strongest period of his writing during which he produced some of his best Pickett books (both Nowhere To Run andCold Wind are must reads), some truly unique short stories, and now his third stand-alone, Back Of Beyond.
Back Of Beyond features Cody Hoyt, the alcoholic cop who was a supporting player in Box’s Three Weeks To Say Goodbye. In this one, he struggles to hold on to the hard earned redemption he won in that book, when the two people who have kept him on that path are dead or in danger. You know our hero is far from the four-square Joe Pickett when the story opens with “The night before Cody Hoyt shot the county coroner…”
Live Wire by Harlan Coben
Harlan Coben gave his hard boiled action series character, Myron Bolitar, the most unlikely profession: sports agent. That said, if you’re one of his athletic clients and in trouble, Myron and his MB Associates employees, along with his rich, psychopath friend Win, will do all they can to bail you out. Coben’s books featuring Myron Bolitar have earned a legion of fans, including former president Clinton, and now Myron is back in Coben’s latest, Live Wire.
The client in Live Wire is Suzze T, a retired tennis star whose rock guitarist husband goes missing when she’s eight months pregnant. Myron’s search for the missing husband leads him to a club where he spots his own estranged brother’s wife with another man. He learns that what he was looking for and what he has found are tied together by drugs, organized crime, and an old scandal tied to a reclusive rock star.
The Complaints by Ian Rankin
Ian Rankin is a master at creating characters. His law enforcement heroes are men we learn to accept despite their shortcomings. They brood through Edinburgh never truly understood by their colleagues and loved ones, and even when they catch the bad guy, true justice (like their peace of mind) is an elusive thing. And so it makes sense that Rankin would write a book where character and morality are the driving factors, as he does in The Complaints.
Malcolm Fox is the lead investigator of The Complaints Department, Scotland’s version of Internal Affairs. He’s a bearish man weighed down by himself and a life that includes a sick father, ex-wife, and a sister in an abusive marriage. Fox’s teetotaling is more about the knowledge of his demons than a lack of them. If the BBC ever decides to adapt the book, Ray Winstone needs to get to his agent.
The current copper Fox has under surveillance is Jamie Breck, a gregarious younger man who spends much of his free time with an avatar computer game. He is also connected to a pedophile ring. The investigation becomes complicated when Fox’s brother-in-law is murdered and Breck is put on the case, a move which could be more than coincidence.