TITLE: SAINTS OF NEW YORK
AUTHOR: R.J. ELLORY
Several copies of this book were send to me by Bookdagger's RealReader's programme for my book club to read and discuss. The book club meeting will take place in four days time and I will write another blog about that discussion and the (various) opinions voiced there. In the meantime, here are my thoughts.
R.J. Ellory writes good stories. They are realistic, with characters you can believe in, finding themselves in situations which seem all to possible. There are no saints in Ellory's book (despite the title) and although plenty, if not all, of the characters may be called sinners to some extend or another, most of them are people you might meet any day, anywhere.
Frank Parrish has been a cop for 18 years and finds himself on probation with the Police Department for challenging his superiors once too often. He's made to talk to a counsellor and advised to be on his best behaviour if he wants to keep his job.
When Frank's called out to the death of a young drugs dealer, Frank isn't too concerned about the murder. Death is the sort of thing that inevitably happens to those who are addicted to drugs or move in that environment. But when he also finds the young man's teenage sister dead, strangled, he can't help feeling that something more than a drugs deal gone wrong has to be at the root of it all.
When further investigation reveals that more young teenage girls have died under similar circumstances and that all of them were under the care of the child protection service, Frank knows that he's dealing with something potentially very nasty. Something he has to stop if he wants to protect other vulnerable young girls. But proof of anything is hard to find, and breaking the rules to stop those he suspects are guilty, might just cost Frank the job that is his life.
At the same time, Frank is struggling with his personal life. His biggest issue is the legacy of his father. A much decorated and admired cop, and member of the "Saints of New York", a group of police officers who supposedly rid New York of the influence of the mob, he is a hard man to live up to. But Frank knows things about his father that others don't. Things that make his father and his colleagues look less good, things that have left Frank bitter about his father's memory.
Over the course of his counselling sessions and the murder investigation Frank comes face to face with a lot of issues he has suppressed and finds himself having to face new truths, having to let go of old certainties, and having to make decisions that might change his life for ever.
I really enjoyed this book. Although it is a great mystery story it's not a traditional page-turner. The thoughts, feelings and development of the main character are at least as important as the question of who done it and how he might be stopped.
While reading this book I really felt that I got to know and understand Frank. I didn't agree with every decision he made and didn't always like what he did, but it all made sense and worked in the story.
Ellory strikes a very nice balance between the inner thoughts and feelings of his character and the action needed to drive the story onwards.
This is the second book I've read by this author and I have not been disappointed. I'm looking forward to discussing this book with my book club as well as reading the rest of Ellory's work.