Author: Adam Carpenter
Publisher: MLR Press
Cover Artist: Unknown
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 07/19/2015
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Jimmy McSwain returns to help his sister’s boyfriend fight a murder charge–and finds he may just have a lead on a cold case.
Hell’s Kitchen private investigator Jimmy McSwain returns in a twisting tale of past sins and present-day vengeance. Jimmy McSwain isn’t thrilled about taking a case for freeâ€”but when his sister fears her boyfriend, Rocky, is cheating on her, he has no choice. But the case takes a deadly turn when Rocky is standing over the body of a man he was just seen kissing, and he’s holding the gun. He begs Jimmy to prove his innocence.
Meanwhile, as a sweltering heat wave claims New York City, a gunman with a thirst for blood is targeting Manhattan deli owners and has already claimed two victims. Jimmy knows a thing or two about thoseâ€”fourteen years ago his father was killed outside a deli, and it’s possible today’s killer could be linked to that unsolved murder, one that continues to haunt Jimmy. Enlisting the aid of sexy NYPD Captain Francis X. Frisano, Jimmy finds himself torn between the two cases, as well as the heat simmering between himself and the hot cop. Suddenly a quiet summer has erupted into a full blown crime wave.
The second of the Jimmy McSwain series continues our friendship with the almost-thirty-year-old private eye, as he once again gets caught up in a murder case. This time it’s a murder he nearly witnesses while looking into the possible cheating of his sister Meaghan’s boyfriend, Rocky Martino. The personal and the professional get interwoven in this book in a very smart, emotionally appropriate way. For all the fact that “Crime Wave” is a detective story, it is also the continuing saga of Jimmy’s psychological evolution, as he tries to quell the demons left by his father’s murder fifteen years earlier.
Carpenter’s location is New York today, and he places his strong Irish-New Yorker family in their ancestral setting: Hell’s Kitchen, a place famous in New York City geography as the setting for West Side Story. But Hell’s Kitchen is today becoming the latest center for young gay men to colonize, as they get pushed out of Chelsea (as they were previously pushed out of Greenwich Village). Carpenter’s sense of place is very important to the story, because it is about the constancy of family in a world that keeps changing. Jimmy is an out and proud gay man, who is nonetheless not fully integrated emotionally in the evolving gay world in New York because of the damage done by witnessing his father’s death. His entire career, which on the surface seems straightforward enough, is really about solving that long-cold murder case.
What makes Carpenter’s narrative so interesting is that Jimmy is not a dark and gloomy guy in spite of that. His slightly off-center family, including his mother, Maggie, and his sisters Meaghan and Mallory, are all warm and loving presences in his life. They bookend Jimmy’s own place, physically and emotionally, in the world, and thus stabilize him. His family’s love anchors him and keeps him from despair, even as his own haunted soul won’t allow him emotional happiness – yet.
Two other characters in this narrative who connect the personal and professional are Rocky Martino, the ex-con accused of the murder, whose family have been friends and neighbors in Hell’s Kitchen since Jimmy’s childhood; and Francis X. Frisano, the handsome and ambitious young police captain who has caught Jimmy’s attention in an entirely different way. Both of these men are counterpoints to Jimmy’s own personality, and provide the plot with remarkable psychological flavor even as they help drive the action to its conclusion.
What I possibly like best about “Crime Wave” is that it denies us the satisfaction of Jimmy’s personal happiness, while giving us a proper conclusion for the story at hand. Carpenter doesn’t resort to cliffhangers; each mystery is complete in itself. It is the background mystery, the one that haunts Jimmy McSwain, that will keep the series going. Carpenter has promised five books in all, and I am already looking forward to book 3.
I would like to thank the author for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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