The Second Savior
Review: Mark Bouton's second LAPD mystery to feature detectives Rick Dover and his partner Falcon, The Second Savior, combines disparate, and seemingly incompatible, elements of inspirational and crime fiction in a single remarkable novel.
Dover and Falcon have decided to confront a Crip leader known as Kinks in an effort to scale back the gang violence in the community. As they walk up to him exiting a liquor store, the area is suddenly sprayed with bullets from a passing car. Kinks is badly hurt, his girlfriend dead. Falcon isn't hurt and Dover escapes serious injury when a carpenter working on the building's facade elbows him aside, taking three slugs himself. The detectives think members of a rival gang, the Bloods, are responsible and will try again once they learn Kinks isn't dead. And try they do, this time successfully, but in the process also killing the cop guarding Kinks in the hospital. Falcon and Dover need eyewitnesses to help put the killers away but the most important one, the carpenter at the scene of the shooting, one Jake Carroll, is missing, having left the hospital of his own accord soon after surgery to remove two of the bullets that hit him, the third being too risky to remove as it was lodged near his spine. Dover and Falcon believe they can put the killers away for good, but their case would be a lot stronger with the testimony of Jake Carroll.
The Second Savior is a most unusual police procedural. The characters are particularly well developed, from the two detectives Dover and Falcon, who couldn't be more different yet work together seamlessly as a team, to Stagger, the leader of the Bloods faction responsible for the shootings, a 'banger with short term goals but no long term objective. But little is known about the enigmatic Jake Carroll (though take note of his initials and his profession). Jake risks his own life to save Dover's, then disappears after making what seems to be a miraculous recovery after being severely injured. Though the story is replete with symbolism, it doesn't weigh down the brisk pacing, with Dover and Falcon methodically and relentlessly buttoning down their case against Stagger.
Dover and Falcon are also working on a second murder investigation, which seems an unnecessary diversion from the primary plot, but it does allow them to show off other facets of their considerable skills as detectives.
A slight disappointment is the ending, which is a little too mystical for a book that is otherwise set in rock solid reality. Still, The Second Savior is an impressive, in many ways quite singular, novel that will appeal to a wide cross-section of mystery readers. (For readers who may be concerned about the language used in the book: the cops and gangs frequently use street language, which at times can be coarse. But it rarely seems inappropriate or offensive, nor is it used to excess.)
Acknowledgment: Mark Bouton provided an ARC of The Second Savior for this review.
Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in The Second Savior:
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The Second Savior by Mark Bouton — An LAPD Mystery
Publisher: Five Star
Publication Date: July 2009
List Price: $25.95