Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Review: The Front by Patricia Cornwell

Hardcover: 180 pages
Language: English
Publisher: Putnam Pub Group May 2008
ISBN-10: 0399154183
ISBN-13: 9780399154188

This is one of those short, superficial books you can zip right through and not have to think about. The plot wasn't complicated and the characters weren't too deep and complex. It's a weak sequel to At Risk which wasn't all that thought provoking either. I got the impression that Cornwell must have been required to publish a book so she just called this one in. In fact, I think all of her books outside the Kay Scarpetta series just don't measure up. It makes me wonder how she can create such colorful and believable characters for Scarpetta, but fail so miserably with her others. This one isn't as bad as Isle of Dogs (nothing could be worse than that ridiculous novel) but it certainly is near the bottom of the list.

Win Garano is a drop dead gorgeous, half Italian/half black investigator for the Boston District Attorney, Monique LaMont. Monique is selfish, ambitious and ruthless and treats her employees as if she owns them. She assigns Win to investigate a cold case from 1962 in which a young blind woman was raped and murdered in Watertown. She's convinced the murder was committed by the Boston Strangler and sees this as a chance to advance her career. Watertown is also the home base for a loose association of municipal police departments called the FRONT, hence the title.

And then there's Win's grandmother...a tarot card reading, curse wielding, superstitious old woman who has been in trouble more than once for putting curses on a couple of politicians. Another character who is little more than a caricature.

Synopsis (from the author's website)

At Risk featured Massachusetts state investigator Win Garano, a shrewd man of mixed-race background and a notinconsiderable chip on his shoulder; District Attorney Monique Lamont, a hard-charging woman with powerful ambitions and a troubling willingness to cut corners; and Garano's grandmother, who has certain unpredictable talents that you ignore at your peril.

And in The Front, peril is what comes to them all. D.A. Lamont has a special job for Garano. As part of a new public relations campaign about the dangers of declining neighborhoods, she's sending him to Watertown to “come up with a drama,” and she thinks she knows just the case that will serve. Garano is very skeptical, because he knows that Watertown is also the home base for a loose association of municipal police departments called the FRONT, set up in order that they don't have to be so dependent on the state—much to Lamont's anger. He senses a much deeper agenda here—but he has no idea just how deep it goes. In the days that follow, he'll find that Lamont's task, and the places it leads him, will resemble a house of mirrors—everywhere he turns, he's not quite sure if what he's seeing is true.

“Falsehoods rule,” warns his grandmother. And they can also kill.

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