RED HOOK by Gabriel Cohen
Thomas Dunne, St. Martin's Minotaur, October 2001
For NYPD Detective Jack Leightner, the murder of a young, Dominican immigrant should have been just another case. But the execution-style killing evokes strong, unwelcome feelings and sad memories for the seasoned detective, a member of the elite Brooklyn South Homicide Task Force. And when the only possible witness is also brutally murdered, Jack starts to have serious doubts about his career, his past, his family, and sometimes his sanity. In the midst of the investigation, Jack is struggling to find common ground with his son, an aspiring documentary filmmaker.
Just as the case heats up, Jack is warned away by his superior. Has he become obsessed? Or is he just a thorough investigator?
I love picking up a first novel, with the (usually futile) hope that I'll get in on the ground floor, be one of the clever readers "in the know" who discovers a rare genius. Usually, of course, I'm disappointed. This time, however, I was delightfully surprised. Gabriel Cohen tells an absorbing tale fraught with emotion and realism. The characters are so genuine I half-expected to find their numbers in my Rolodex. The plot is fresh, yet not so outlandish as to stretch credibility. But the real shining star of his book is Cohen's sense of place. I'd never even heard of the neighborhood of Red Hook, until Cohen brought it to life for me. Now I feel like I've actually walked the cracked sidewalks. If he has more books like this in him, Cohen has a long, successful career in his future.
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