Veteran Chicago detective Abe Lieberman has things on his mind. His daughter's in from L.A., having left her husband. In addition, a small-time Korean gangster who lost his livelihood thanks to Abe has come to kill him--again.
"You come near here again, you're dead. I think it's better to be alive than dead, but you make up your own mind." Bill Hanrahan, a pro lineman would-have-been thanks to bad knees, is Abe's longtime partner (cops call them the Rabbi and the Priest) and he, too, has issues. A softball assignment guarding the ex-wife and son of mob-accountant-about-to-sing Mickey Gornitz has just gone south; the woman's been murdered and the boy snatched. It's not the first time a woman's been killed while in Hanrahan's care, although it is the first since he's been sober. The kidnapper's demand to Gornitz--an unwelcome confidant of Abe's--is simple: kill yourself and the boy lives. An untenable situation for all, the resolution of which plumbs the vagaries of philosophy and morality.
"I can go?" Kim asked warily.
"I wish you would. I've got an important phone call to make."
Kim rose, confused. "You won't even arrest me?"
Lieberman's foot was driving him crazy. He had to scratch it, and he did.
"So, more dishonor from the Jew devil," Kim said.
"You get your dialogue from very bad Hong Kong movies," Lieberman said. "You need a slightly higher grade of culture. You ever see Mildred Pierce?"
Kaminsky has as sure a hand (from character development and dialogue to plot and pacing) as you'll find in any police procedural, and he's got more successful series running than many authors have successful novels. To the wonderful Lieberman series, add his contemporary Russian detective, Porfiry Rostnikov (star of 2000's Fall of a Cosmonaut); his 1940s Hollywood PI, Toby Peters (1991's Poor Butterfly), and his newest, Sarasota process server-cum-people locator, Lew Fonesca (1999's Vengeance). Do yourself a favor and read them all. --Michael Hudson