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A Philadelphia narcotics cop is shot dead in his home. A bar owner's wife and partner are gunned down during an attempted robbery. And in a beautiful mansion, a young woman dies of a heroin overdose. At first the crimes seem unconnected. But these four deaths are about to trigger a massive convergence of corruption, cops, and the mob that could tear the Philadelphia Police Department apart from the inside out. All the way to the top...
One challenge of series writing is to make each individual novel stand on its own, and Griffin almost succeeds with this fast-paced slice-of-cop-life entry in his Badge of Honor series, the sixth volume overall (after The Assassin) and the first to be published in hardcover. The story, set in 1975, centers around the murder of Philadelphia policeman Jerry Kellog, perhaps committed by a corrupt cop because Kellog's wife, who's left him for another cop, has revealed that her husband's narcotics unit is dirty. Meanwhile, bar owner Gerry Atchison hires a small-time hit man to kill his cheating wife and his thieving business partner. Finding solutions to the three murders unites Giffin's huge cast of characters, among them high-profile detective Matt Payne and take-charge Sgt. Jason Washington, both of Special Operations. Heavy on the dialogue and action, with a touch of politics and a dash of soap opera, this swiftly paced novel has the feel of a breezy, expansive ensemble piece. But it lacks the solidity of many stand-alone novels and, though engaging enough, gives the impression of characters and an author who are already looking toward the next book.