ONE OF THE "MOST ANTICIPATED CRIME BOOKS OF 2021."—CRIMEREADS
PICK OF THE MONTH—MysteryPeople
Does your past define you forever?
That's the question LAPD homicide detective Niels Madsen must answer after he gets in the middle of a standoff between two uniformed officers and Cisco, an intellectually disabled man. Cisco is found armed and standing over the body of a man with Down syndrome. Cisco swears the dead man was his good friend, and he didn’t hurt him, but in his earlier life, Cisco had been gang member, a brilliant and brutal killer. After he was badly beaten, brain injuries left him him—if he is to be believed—with the intellectual intelligence of a child. Madsen's search for the truth leads him through the special needs community, East LA gang life, and pits him up against the corrupt LA Sheriff’s Department.
More than a police procedural, Tricky explores questions of human nature: Whether a man can change, for better or worse, and whether redemption is possible.
LAPD homicide detective Niels Madsen, the protagonist of this engrossing mystery from Stallings (Young Americans), is on his way to work when he comes across an armed standoff between a rookie cop he knows and considers trigger-happy and a man at a bus stop. Madsen manages to disarm the stranger, later identified as Francisco Gutierrez, who was left intellectually disabled after a severe beating two years earlier. Gutierrez is standing near the body of David Torres, a low-level thug who apparently was shot with Gutierrez's weapon. Gutierrez denies killing Torres, whom he considered a friend. But Madsen questions that denial after learning of the suspect's violent past, which includes a first-degree murder conviction when Gutierrez was 14. Madsen must sort out whether Gutierrez, who doesn't recall whether he fired the shot that killed Torres, is innocent. Stallings makes Madsen a well-rounded lead, even as he keeps the reader guessing. Those looking for an alternative to standard police procedural whodunits will be rewarded.