They were the Sheridan men, ruled by passion, betrayed by love, heirs to a legacy of violence and forbidden desire. Gus, Boston's top homicide cop: he knew equally well the backroom politics of City Hall and the private passions of the very rich, a man haunted by the wanton courage and perilous obsessions he inherited from his father... Conn, the patriarch, a lawless cop who spawned a circle of vengeance and betrayal that would span half a century... and Chris, Gus's beloved son, a Harvard lawyer and criminologist, fated to risk everything to break the chain of obsession and rage... Three generations linked by crime and punishment--cops and heroes, fathers, sons, and lovers united at last by revelations that could bring a family to its knees...
Spenser doesn't appear in this overwrought, Boston-set saga of three generations of Irish-American cops, but the spirit of Parker's popular PI dominates these pages nonetheless, with each cop in turn obsessed with courage, codes of behavior and, especially, A Woman. These are the themes of Parker's other non-Spenser novels as well, particularly Love and Glory, but here they're explored in a tale whose scaffolding of parallels and coincidences suspends disbelief as poorly as do the characters' operatic passions. The Sheridan patriarch, Conn, for example, having been betrayed in Ireland during ``the troubles'' by the love of his life, one Hadley Winslow, moves to the U.S. with a heart of stone: ``It was so hard to stop caring about her,'' he tells a fellow cop, ``that I had to stop caring about everything.'' That is, until Conn catches the case of a young girl found slain and molested, discovers that Hadley's son is the culprit and uses that information to blackmail Hadley into a longterm sexual liaison in exchange for burying the proof against her son. If ever a set of characters needed Prozac it's these Sheridans, whose sullen, brutal, unlikely dance with the Winslow women continues until the third-generation Sheridan, with help from his father, breaks the spell after a paroxysm of violence. All this pained macho posturing is shaped by Parker's usual elegant and precise prose, perhaps the cleanest in crimedom; but, finally no turn of phrase is quick enough to keep his somber tale from sinking into fatal self-importance. BOMC and QPB selections; major ad/promo.