Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Slaying of Joe Foster (DCI Isaac Cook #13), by Phillip Strang

Phillip Strang, October 2020

DCI Cook and the Challis Street Station homicide team have a new murder on their hands. Major local crime boss Joe Foster has been shot dead, in broad daylight, in the street. A niggling little detail is that the street is Basing Street, a place he has no obvious reason to be.

In their search for the killer, they're soon studying not just his rivals, but his family--first wife, four sons and one daughter; second wife, one son, one daughter.

Relations between the two families are not good.

The oldest son of the first family, Terry, is ambitious and violent. Samantha, second-born, is smarter and more strategic. Tom is an unambitious drunk; Billy has his own quite profitable criminal career involving stolen cars, and has no real interest in Joe's criminal organizatio. The youngest, Ben, has a completely legal, and successful, career, and professes no interest in being involved in crime.

Emily, the second wife, shows every sign of having no interest in criminal activity, and professes to know very little about her husband's activities outside of the legal side of his business. But is this true? The team have doubts.

And then there's the major outside contender for Joe Foster's empire--Spanish John, the gang leader who went to school with DCI Isaac Cook, and is now DI Larry Hill's drinking buddy and occasional information source.

There's Foster's financial advisor, Jacob Morgan, an odd, reclusive, frugal man, who must know all of Foster's financial secrets, and maybe have skimmed some for himself.

And lastly, there's Tony Rafter, a highly successful businessman, entirely too well-connected politically for any serious investigation. Even the pro forma questioning that can't be avoided because of his connctions to Foster and Morgan requires that Cook's boss, Detective Chief Superintendent Goddard, be a part of it.

It only gets more complicated, as they discover Foster's young mistress, there's an all too credible accusation of corruption against Larry Hill, Morgan disappears, and Terry Foster is shot.

I like these characters, and the story is good. The characters continue to grow. It's good that Isaac Cook is now married, they have a baby, and they're in a new house, suitable for rasing a family in the way Isaac's old flat wasn't. What doesn't seem to be changing much, though, is the fact that both Goddard and Cook deserve promotion, and the politics that instead seem to ensure that there's always career-ending political disaster hovering over them. This may or may not be realistic, but the two stalled careers with impending disaster ever-present, over multiple books, does not make for a satisfying story element. It's a frustration for me.

Nevertheless, a very good mystery. Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley from the author, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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