book cover of Fall Guy
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Fall Guy

(The second book in the Barry Gilbert series)
A novel by

Homicide detectives Barry Gilbert and his able young partner, Joe Lombardo, assigned to a murder in Toronto's Chinatown, quickly find themselves ensnared in a tangle of Canadian-Asian gangs, international drug operations, local politics, corrupt cops, and such familiar pan-ethnic vices as adultery, greed and twisted uses of power in this disappointing sequel to 1998's Cold Comfort from Canadian author Mackay. The dynamic cover, a nighttime Chinatown street scene, is jazzy, colorful and intense. In that regard it outdoes the plot, which, like the investigation itself, trudges along in muddled fashion. One step forward, one step back, and one step sideways may well represent how police investigations actually unfold, but most readers of modern police procedurals will wish for a tighter, if less realistic, story line. Lacking as well is any real sense of place or culture. Except for a brief sojourn in Hong Kong, which is beautifully rendered, the action could have occurred in any modern city; except for their surnames, the Asians could just as easily be plain-vanilla bad guys. The author attempts to ratchet up the mystery by working in multiple suspects, but his plan is undercut by a title that gives away the punch line. Since it's clear from the get-go that there's going to be a fall guy, the only real question is, who is he? The one to whom the bulk of the evidence points, of course; once that evidence is accumulated (and, in Mackay's curious style, endlessly replayed in Gilbert's mind), little mystery remains.

Genre: Mystery

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