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Third Rail

An Eddie Harkness Mystery by Rory Flynn

Third Rail by Rory Flynn

Review: As Eddy Harkness is policing the parking meters in the affluent Boston suburb of Nagog, a car comes racing down the street, hitting a deer that had wandered away from a nearby park and nearly running over Harkness himself before crashing into a concrete monument in the town square. Harkness secures the scene and, as a former narcotics cop, pockets a suspicious vial he finds in the car, in Third Rail, the first mystery in this series by Rory Flynn.

Harkness finds himself in the suburbs after effectively being run out of Boston. A savant of sorts when it comes to crime scenes, he quickly picks up on details overlooked by others. But that talent isn't enough to save him when he's blamed for the death of a civilian. Banished to working patrol in Nagog, there is little to excite him there. Until his narcotics training tells him that the driver of the car might not have been in complete control of his faculties. And while alcohol might be to blame — indeed, he was three times over the limit when the man's blood is analyzed — Harkness can't help but think that substance he took out of the car is an important clue. He calls in a favor and learns it is a new street drug called Third Rail, which his source tells him is a "synthetic cousin of meth with a splash of dopamine to wake up your brain and an ephedrine chaser to squeeze it like a lemon. Guanfacine to mess with your memory. All mixed with this Chinese herb, ma huang, to make things really crazy. Hard to make. Way expensive." And also apparently not illegal. Sought after by those who can afford it, it is also the target of a pharmaceutical company, which is looking to commercialize it for its "benefits". Deciding that he can better track down its source by experiencing what the drug can actually do, he pours a drop into his beer and in his mind becomes the hero he wasn't in Boston. "As the one golden drop starts to wear off, Harkness realizes its power. Third Rail defeats history, for a while — and sometimes that's enough. Enough to make him want to take it again."

The flawed cop is a seriously overused plot device in contemporary crime fiction and Eddy Harkness is nothing if not flawed. (For example, he carelessly loses his gun in the opening chapters and spends considerable effort looking for it in a subplot that runs for much of the book.) Unfortunately, the character isn't developed much beyond being defined by his flaws and as a consequence is hard to relate to. Which is really quite unfortunate because the story itself, though a little thinly plotted, is rather good and unfolds in a not quite predictable manner that keeps the reader guessing. (It's written in third person present tense, however, a style that rarely works and is more than a little annoying here.) The supporting cast adds to the tension as it is never exactly clear who is on Harkness's side and who isn't. The ending, while not completely unexpected, neatly and satisfactorily wraps up the primary storyline and leaves the door open for Eddy Harkness to move forward with his life, if not necessarily move on with it. Overall Third Rail is a good introduction to the series, one with a number of familiar elements that nonetheless has the potential to distinguish itself within this genre.

Acknowledgment: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt provided an ARC of Third Rail for this review.

Review Copyright © 2014 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …

Mystery Book Review: Dark Horse by Rory FlynnDark Horse
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Hardcover), June 2016
ISBN-13: 9780544253247; ISBN-10: 0544253248

Location(s) referenced in Third Rail: Boston, Massachusetts

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Third Rail by Rory Flynn

Third Rail by An Eddie Harkness Mystery

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-0-544-22627-2
Publication Date:
List Price: $23.00

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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews

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