Brooklyn Heat by D. James Eldon is at times a fast paced crime mystery novel and at times a slow-paced police procedural novel. On balance, the fast-paced outweighs the slow-paced stuff and this novel has enough twists to make it a great read.
The beginning scene will capture the reader immediately. The horribly graphic killing of a child sets the reader up to hate any suspect that might be guilty. Some crime novels glorify the criminal as a good boy gone bad, but nobody sympathizes with the murderer and torturer of a young child. A powerful start and an introduction of a sympathetic but somewhat incompetent, immature cop, Jimmy McNally, who engages totally with the victim’s mother leads the reader down the path of a torturous investigation. Jimmy, who is definitely not the lead investigator, will play a central role but he is not in charge.
The reason that the investigation is so tortuous is that various other investigators, competent ones, spend so much time with introspective looks at their own problems; there is barely time to pursue leads. Lead investigator Hiro Masimoto, after trying to pry the victim’s mother from the arms of protector McNally, spends a lot of dialogue explaining why he feels it necessary to follow a circuitous route in protecting the career of McNally. Hiro, whose name must inspire a lot of squad room puns, has a partner, Ryan Sullivan. Hiro doesn’t like working with partners and has worked alone for several years after feeling betrayed by a former corrupt officer partner. Hiro gets along with Sully; this is demonstrated by the humorous dialogue between the two. However, on this case, Sully seems somewhat distracted and Hiro wants full focus from his partner. Sully is more concerned with his other partner at home, a fellow officer, Danny, who has an administrative job at headquarters. There is the lengthy playout of same-sex acceptance angst which delays the investigation-at-hand, who killed the child and then did post-mortem carving?
There are some usual suspects. This also means those who we would normally expect to find in a crime novel. There is the old lady who can never sleep who probably saw the killer. No investigator asked her questions. Lisa is the victim’s mom, but she spends early days after the crime nearly comatose. Her mom, Julia appears as the all-knowing mom who will steer the detectives to the logical, out-of-the-country suspect, Nick. The detectives are ready to accept this, following the police logic that it is always those closest to you that do you in. Somewhere about halfway through the book, Hiro and Sully decide that there is something a bit off about available evidence. Is there a possible frame, could someone else have done it? From here, the story moves forward in a much clearer, more interesting and focused manner. Right through to the end, the reader will not feel confident as to who the perpetrator really is.
There is also a necessary and interesting subplot about life in a biker gang. Loyalties that endure a lifetime are supposed to obscure strings of petty larceny by biker gang members. At least they have good hearts. They carry their strong bonds of loyalty with them as they serve out sentences in jails and prisons. The reader gets a glimpse of the hierarchies of power that make prison incarceration livable.
This is a pleasant, but not necessarily fun read. Psychopaths, sociopaths, mentally disturbed, and other socially maladjusted types leave the reader in doubt as to whether anyone is normal. Mostly, the characters in this novel are not.