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Shakedown    by Joel Goldman order for
by Joel Goldman
Order:  USA  Can
Pinnacle, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In Shakedown, Joel Goldman takes us along on a grueling investigation, featuring FBI Special Agent Jack Davis, who's haunted by the fact that his small son was killed by a pedophile. The aftershock broke up his marriage to Joy (though they are not yet divorced) and probably contributed to his daughter Wendy's history with drugs (Wendy is now clean and in a relationship - against Jack's wishes - with FBI Agent Colby Hudson, who's working undercover on drug-related cases).

The story begins with a massacre in Kansas City, a shooting that takes out drug dealer Marcellus Pearson along with five others, including his toddler son (the latter death hits Jack hard, given his personal history). Unfortunately, the senior FBI agent is soon off the case, on medical leave, after he inadvertently goes public about the tremors that have been increasingly ravaging him. He refuses to be sidelined, especially after it becomes apparent that there's a leak in his own unit. Jack consults his friend - and developing romantic interest - jury consultant Kate Scranton, a divorcee whose skill with the Facial Action Coding System allows her to detect witnesses' evasions and lies, and to 'see the involuntary, uncontrollable, soul-stripping micro expressions that lay people open like an autopsy.'

And autopsies are not in short supply in Shakedown. Kept out in the cold by the feds - and in trouble with his boss for pursuing the investigation - Jack teams up with police officer Marty Grisnik, trading information and leads. Unfortunately, the trail takes him close to home and leads to a crescendo of violence and betrayals - and no clear answers. I enjoyed Shakedown, a gripping, thrilling read with a lead imperfect enough to be a real human being.

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