A Clean Kill, Leslie Glass, Onyx, $7.99.
There are few authors whose books make me squeal with delight when a new episode appears, but Leslie Glass is one of them. I have long been not a Law & Order addict (though I enjoy Law & Order) but an NYPD Blue addict, and the Glass novels are very close in feel to Blue's mix of cop's personal lives and police procedure. I never have enjoyed Ed McBain so much (and I suppose he's the real grandfather of this particular subgenre) but have always enjoyed Lillian O'Donnell's wonderful police novels - I think Leslie Glass is working in the same tradition, and in April Woo, she has a main character as interesting and conflicted as O'Donnell's memorable Norah Mulcahaney (or Blue's Andy Sipowicz, for that matter). Even though April has finally married Mike Sanchez, somehow it hasn't spoiled the tension of their relationship, or muted the absolute delight of April's horror of a mother, the "Skinny Dragon". That the novels also usually contain a cracking good story is almost a bonus.
In this novel, Glass again concentrates on the upper crust of New York society, in this case the very privileged lives of the ultra rich women who raise children with the benefit of nannies, and keep house with the benefit of their housekeepers. What do they do with their time, if they're not shlepping their kids all over town or running to the grocery store? Apparently the endless errands in our more humdrum lives are preventing mindless shopping, drug use, and numerous meaningless affairs. Glass manages to make you (almost) feel sorry for these women, who live lives of privilege but are curiously unconnected to the world. Even their husbands don't really want to be in the same room with them. The first body (in a Glass novel, there is never only one body) is that of a young mother found in the steam room of the private spa/gym attached to her house. She's discovered by the nanny; though she's been stabbed repeatedly, the killer has set her body under the shower and washed it off. That detail haunts April throughout the case, and is in part responsible for pushing her forward, despite her desire to wrap things up quickly and take off on her long delayed honeymoon.
Like all the other novels, April seems to be able to float into cases caught by other precincts - in this case, she's called in by her husband, now a Captain, and given grudging respect (which she's worked to achieve throughout all the other books in this series) by the lead detective. She's inevitably folded into the task force, and leaves her own detectives to unravel a sensitive case involving the son of a senator. She finds herself trying to fight off the resentments she now realizes her own commanding officers must have felt when she was a hot shot up and comer. Her home life is complicated by the fact that though she and Mike have bought a home in the suburbs, far away from her parents, her mother and father nevertheless appear and move in, in an all out effort to assist in the important business of getting April pregnant. Mostly her mother's cooking makes April nauseous and it makes the reader wonder if she really is pregnant - but a book that took seven installments to get the main characters married off is not going to grant April and Mike an instant family one book after the wedding. Lillian O'Donnell handled Norah's quest for a family in a compelling and heartbreaking way - I'll be interested to see where the talented Leslie Glass takes this more than interesting couple, one of my favorites in all of present mystery fiction.
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