Fall in Portland, Maine usually arrives as a welcome respite from summer’s sweltering temperatures and, with the tourists gone, a return to normal life—usually. But when a retired cop is murdered, things heat up quickly, setting the city on edge.
Detective Sergeant John Byron, a second-generation cop, is tasked with investigating the case—at the very moment his life is unraveling. On the outs with his department’s upper echelon, separated from his wife, and feeling the strong pull of the bottle, Byron remains all business as he tries to solve the murder of one of their own. And when another ex-Portland PD officer dies under suspicious circumstances, he quickly realizes there’s much more to these cases than meets the eye. The closer Byron gets to the truth, the greater the danger for him and his fellow detectives.
This taut, atmospheric thriller will appeal to fans of Michael Connelly and John Sandford.
Among the Shadows: Bruce Robert Coffin
Sometimes the clarity of what is right in front of you is clouded by something that will create a fog or mist so that you can no longer see what is right in front of you. Hidden between the pages of this mystery/thriller is a killer that is diabolical, smart, and illusive and who has taken murder to another level. Hiding in plain sight and thinking they are people you can trust little does Detective Sergeant John Byron know that more than one killer is hiding in plain sight as corruption and cover-up are only the beginning. Watching, observing and keeping track of the daily activities of many one person is out to clear the decks of many who he felt betrayed and committed a wrong years ago.
The setting is Portland, Maine and the air is thick as the heat index rises but when two retired cops are killed something needs to be done to stop the killer. As Detective Sergeant John Byron, has been assigned as the lead investigator along with his partner Diane Joyner, they search through a cold case from 1985 dealing with an armed car robbery and leading to the death of three robbers and one police officer. With the odds against him finding the killer, burying himself in liquor and his wife filing for divorce his hands are full and his mind is filled with mixed emotions. Trying to solve the murder brings to light the fact that the two that were killed so long ago were part of a Special Reaction Team and that somehow the remaining survivors or members of the team are going to be targeted next. But, interviewing the ones he finds proves rather frustrating as it includes his Deputy Chief Cross who is hiding something, the Chief of police and several retired officers from the team who are hiding a secret. No one ever recovered almost 2 million dollars stolen in the robbery and no one claimed it. As John, Diane and his team work to solve the case another man is killed making it three and his life is threatened when pushed into a moving train.
Interviewing the chief proved enlightening but not forthcoming with real facts or information. A reporter receives an anonymous call from someone called Hawk and finds himself arrested for trespassing on someone’s property but the end result the man winds up dead. The killer is someone they all know and trust but for some reason as you hear his voice he is righting what he claims is a wrong and these men have to pay. Within the storyline we learn more about how John’s father comes into play in these murders and what happened when he found him at home after supposedly putting a bullet in his head.
The team consists of Nugent, Joyner, Byron and several others who seem right on the ball and definitely have the pulse of the case in hand but someone is outsmarting them as Tran the technology guy has problems finding information about different people, their backgrounds and when he assigns someone to search for a car that someone noticed in front of the house of the first murder victim, it seems to be nonexistent.
Byron is relentless and when he finds one of the SRT men and his wife he questions him and what is revealed sets a chain of events in motion that goes all the way to the top of his police force. The truth behind the armed robbery, the team that went in and the officer killed makes readers wonder just how far this corruption goes. Dealing in drugs, pulling off money from drug busts, taking drugs and profiting is just the tip of a very dangerous iceberg as the officer and his wife are in a safe house, a nosy reporter seems to want revenge on John and a person he trusted just might be the one who is heading the deception and the person dealing in murder.
With Royer his boss, Cross the Assistant Chief, Ferguson the Assistant DA and his team of Tran, Diane and Nugent John hopes to take down whoever started it before more members of the SRT team are taken out. The reporter is working his own angle and wants to find or get dirt on John so he approaches someone on the force promising him a real scoop and a rise in rank if he helps him. But, things get away from them as Diane comes home and walks into a robbery and the killer and finds herself in the hospital and possibly the next target. John now knows that leaks are possible and he had better limit the information to the select few as he realizes someone he trusts is batting for the wrong team or the other side.
The delicate pieces of this puzzle are coming together as LeRoyer works with John to catch more than one killer and realizes that someone he confided in is responsible for the drug money filtering, the drugs and possibly linked to the murders. As Stevens is watching one suspect and another retired officer another, someone decided to blow up the safe house with the only witness that could link all of the suspects together including incriminating himself in the drug busts. But, someone wanted him silenced and a nosy reporter comes into the mix as he interferes once more but John puts him in his place but will he stop before someone else gets killed?
There were ten on the SRT team in 1985. They were O’Halloran, Riordan who are two victims of the killer as well as Boudreau, Ray Humphrey, Perrigo, Reece Bryon, Eric Williams and Gagnon. All were involved in the search for the money from the armed car robbery and what they found helped them stay financially afloat. But, the final guy, Andreas was a lose end and that had to be taken care of. Let’s not forget Cross who was involved in more than just the money aspect and as the Assistant Police Chief wielded too much power over the rest. Truths, betrayals, one man’s goal for power and greed led a group to their own demise as not only does Byron come face to face with more than one killer but a harsh reality about his father is about to come to light. As all of the players have their weapons out and someone has eliminated the one witness that could end it all, Diane is once again in danger, Nugent might not make it in time and a simple text from Tran will open up a can of tomatoes or worms that will be more plentiful than anyone would ever see in a fruit market or pet store filled with bait. The ending is explosive, terrifying and the final body count is undetermined as Byron faces off with killers using his unorthodox method of solving a case hoping that he won’t be found guilty of breaking more laws than you have fingers and toes and hopefully will come out standing tall. Author Bruce Robert Coffin takes us deep inside the minds of the FBI, Police Department in Portland and one man who would not give up until Justice was properly served.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine