by Robert K. Lewis
Read: March 25-29, 2013
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 16
Source: Author for TLC Book Tours
Blurb: Estranged from his wife and daughter, former undercover cop Mark Mallen has spent the last four years in a haze of heroin. When his best friend from the academy, Eric Russ, is murdered, all the evidence points to Mallen as the prime suspect.
Now Mallen’s former colleagues on the force are turning up the heat and Russ’s survivors are asking him to come up with some answers. But if he wants to serve justice to the real killer, Mallen knows he’ll have to get clean. Turning a life around is hard work for a junkie, especially when a gang of low-life thugs wants him dead. Bruised, battered, and written off by nearly everyone, can Mallen keep clean and catch a killer?
Sometimes the darkest moments of our life give us the brightest chance at our redemption.
Page 55 of ARC
When I was originally pitched this book I thought it sounded like a pretty decent read. I had no idea just how enjoyable I would find it. I was very pleasantly surprised by this debut book by Robert K. Lewis. I honestly feel like this is such a wonderful start to what can be a great new series.
I have to begin this review by talking about a couple of the characters. My faithful readers know that I am a huge stickler for some good character development. To me the characters will make or break a book, especially a series. Mark Mallen is such an interesting character. If I had to choose one word to describe him I would select flawed. And boy oh boy, is he ever flawed. I mean, he’s an ex-cop, who used to work undercover in narcotics. And why is he an ex-cop? Oh, you know, because he got hooked on heroin during his undercover stint and got kicked off the force. Can you get any more flawed than that? I don’t think so. But there’s just something about him that works. I think it’s the fact that he wants to be better. As the reader, we really get to see the transformation that so many junkies never get to experience: the want to get clean. And it’s a tough road. He detoxes cold turkey while in the drunk tank in jail. That’s tough. There are many times throughout the book that you think that he’s going to relapse. Personally I found myself rooting so hard for Mallen to get out of certain situations still clean. I wanted him to stay clean. I wanted him to succeed. His character is just so real. In my opinion, he’s a great main character. It’s hard to blend flawed and likeable at the same time … but Mr. Lewis certainly does so almost effortlessly.
In my opinion another character who must be discussed is Gato. Some would call his character more periphery than some of the other characters. But there was just something about Gato that didn’t really feel right. First, Mallen meets him while he’s in the drunk tank detoxing. Obviously that’s not the best time to meet your new best friend. But for some reason, Gato offers him friendship. And Mallen takes him up on it when he’s clean and back on the outside. But for some reason, something rubbed me the wrong way about his character. He was almost too helpful. He never questioned Mallen. Even when most guys would walk away from Mallen and the crazy things he was asking of Gato, he stayed. He just seemed too eager to help Mallen. I might be making more out of it than there is to it, but like I said, something felt off …. I have a feeling that Gato is going to ask Mallen for help in the next book, and I think it’s going to be something big (bad?) that he’s going to be requesting. Just a feeling I have, though.
The storyline itself is interesting. It was fast paced and kept me guessing until the end. The killer was predictable, but I found it fun to work “the case” with Mallen. I liked seeing him brush off the rust of the past four years and get back into his groove with investigating. It was definitely fun. I also liked that the reader gets Mallen’s history. It was definitely necessary to include this information. To me it only made Mallen that much more enjoyable – it was very easy to see how he ended up where he did. I didn’t necessarily feel sorry for him, or think it was excusable, but it really put things into perspective.
Overall, I can’t recommend this book enough. And I’m excited that Mr. Lewis is busy at work on the next Mallen book 🙂
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**This review is posted in conjunction with the TLC Book Tours blog tour. I received a copy of this book to review in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation and the opinions expressed here are my own.
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