Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Robert Crais: Free Fall Review

Beautiful but innocent Jennifer Sheridan appeals to the Cole Detective Agency for help. She believes that her beautiful and nearly as innocent boyfriend is having an affair. Mark is a policeman, recently become a member of an elite unit - an awkward person to investigate, especially when you consider Cole's partner's murky past on the force.

Cole begins tugging at strings: there's the death while being arrested of a young black man in a pawn shop, there's a few mentions of a Crip-affiliated gang led by Akeem D'Muere, there's the small matter of the whole of Thurman's REACT team following Cole around instead of arresting criminals. Fortunately Joe Pike is on hand with a pump-action to help keep the peace. So is the team dirty? No evidence comes to hand immediately. Something has happened though, to change Thurman's behaviour and to keep his partner drunk and mean, let alone to bring bad bluffs and quiet threats from the team leader.

As ever, follow the money. Through a nifty bit of subterfuge Cole gets access to some lawyer's papers - the aforementioned pawn shop is owned by the leader of the aforementioned gang. Not only that but it had an expensive internal security system, including cameras. No mention of those in the reports of the death at the shop. As the chase heats up, the murdered man's brother comes up with a street contact with some info - the REACT team is in league with the gang and is wiping out their competition. Not only that, there's a raid about to go down - come along and watch. Joe Pike has a bad feeling and Joe is right - it's a setup. Cole and the brother are nabbed by the gang, the brother is shot with Cole's gun and the police called - to find a large stash of dope in Cole's car. Cole and Pike are arrested; not good for private investigators.

The plot continues at a merry pace: Cole and Pike, plus an ex-Marine they've found along the way, versus a bunch of crooked cops and a gang that kills casually and uncaringly. Evidence is found, evidence is lost, as we head for a climactic shootout at a crack house. Believable? Yes, Crais builds his action well and sequences events and consequences to produce a well-paced and very readable thriller. Add in a sensitive addressing of black issues (warriors must fight on the side of right) and you have a book well worth reading.


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