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Speak of the Devil    by Richard Hawke order for
Speak of the Devil
by Richard Hawke
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Make room mystery writers, and tune-in mystery readers - a new master of suspense is on the loose. Richard Hawke makes his mystery debut with private investigator Fritz Malone in Speak of the Devil. Set in New York City ('there are so many lights on in Manhattan's buildings all through the night, it looks like you're driving into a cluster of stars'), it has great dialog, an engaging protagonist, and an excellent support cast.

Central Park's blooming with yellow and red leaves; it's 'apple-cider weather' with a high bright sun and crisp air - the perfect setting for the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Fritz Malone is headed for his partner Margo's place with fresh bagels. Stopping to view the parade, he is in just the right position to spot a man who pulls a Beretta 92F from his belt. Shots rings out, spectators scatter, and the injuries and deaths include one of New York's finest. Having fired the dead officer's gun, Malone is rushed away in a police vehicle. Later told that the sniper (Roberto Diaz) died while in police custody, Fritz wonders how that could be since his shot only entered the perp's shoulder.

The gunman was apparently aiming at Broadway actress Rebecca Gilpin (dressed as Mother Goose in the parade), who happens to be the girlfriend of Mayor Martin Leavitt. Police Commissioner Tommy Carroll and Leavitt engage Malone as Gilpin's bodyguard. There seems to be a plot to extort an exorbitant ransom from the City of New York. But there is much more going on than extortion, with decades old revenge and jealousy in play. There are hard-nosed crooked cops, corruption leading to the city's most powerful players, suicide and murders, and there is someone else behind the dead-Diaz plot. The unknown is given the title of Nightmare, soon revealed as Angel. In addition to all this, Malone is hired by his half-brother's mother to investigate a family situation.

I recommend Richard Hawke as a masterful storyteller, who hooks readers with the perfect pace, non-stop action, intriguing plot buildup, delectable dialogue (combining witty, dry humor with the serious notes), and a super-duper ending. I hope that Speak of the Devil was only the first of a new series.

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