The task force is focused on locating the ambassador, but for McKenna, the investigation becomes urgent when he learns that the kidnapped woman is Carmen de la Cruz, a personal friend. The search begins for two dangerous cells, one in New York, the other in Spain.
Det. Brian McKenna Novels
McKenna and Sanchez work with the FBI, ATF, and state troopers to comb the city and eventually the state, but in Spain the investigation is stalled-until the two detectives negotiate an unprecedented role in a foreign police matter. When they arrive in Madrid, McKenna and Sanchez are caught in the crossfire of a war between Basque nationalists and the Spanish police themselves.
Intercepted cellphone calls lead the partners to resort area of Gibraltar, and a complex of caves beneath the famous rock that might conceal Carmen and her kidnappers. Combining terrific suspense, only-in-New York characters, and first hand knowledge about how an international terrorist incident is investigated, The Protectors is Dan Mahoney at his best. In this sixth entry of an improving series The Two Chinatowns, , etc.
And across the ocean.
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Mahoney, a former NYPD captain, is, as always, at his best with the police procedural stuff, at his weakest with the novelizing. A shift to the wings for Det.
Avoiding the Hollywood-style car chases and slam-bang shoot-outs of his previous outings, Mahoney here pairs the fictional McKenna with real-life NYPD homicide detective Tom McKenna "a pal" whom the author denies was an inspiration for the fictional cop and other existing law enforcement personnel as he solves a gruesome Fort Tryon Park torture-murder whose victims are the daughter of a politically shrewd New York councilman and the son of a wealthy Virginia criminal lawyer with close ties to Congress.
In his first meeting with Tom, Brian discovers that this killing, in which the female victim was gagged and whipped to death, is virtually identical to an unsolved case that has obsessed Tom for 18 years. The two soon find other cops, from California and Arizona to Costa Rica, with similar unsolved murders that all occurred in secluded, spectacularly scenic areas. Brian shares the belief of his cronies that they—re all the work of two men—one black, one white—who sell photographs and videos of their carnage on the snuff-porn market.
Meanwhile, Arthur McMahon, the wealthy Virginian lawyer, has let Brian know that he wants the murdering team to die, legally or illegally, and will spend any amount to make sure it happens.
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Exact and fascinating cop-insider material, as always from Mahoney, but without much action or suspense—and the ponderous explicatory dialogue is no help. A police procedural that combines workmanlike genre detail, film-me-please Hollywood violence, and a routine catch-the-psycho plot—and succeeds wonderfully. No longer the maverick tough guy of times past, McKenna is now content to use his chummy connections with Commissioner Ray Brunette, who pretends to run the factionalized, highly bureaucratic police department, to speed his investigations.
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Tossed a missing-person case involving Meaghan Maher, a beautiful Irish lass whose priest brother is a favorite of the Cardinal's, McKenna discovers a curious cover-up in place. Not long after Meaghan's tortured and mutilated body washes up off the coast of Iceland—the apparent victim of a psychopathic IRA bomber who also blew up the visiting British Foreign Secretary, Sir Ian Smythe-Douglass, and his wife—McKenna is on the plane for Eire, where, in the first of many improbabilities, he identifies the bomber, caught in a photo from a security camera, as former NYPD Officer Mike Mullen, who was bounced off the force after he was found shaking down prostitutes.
But did Mullen really kill both Meaghan and the foreign secretary, or is there some other shadowy player at work? But McKenna's quiet dignity and reasoned appreciation of human foibles, combined with Mahoney's own love of quirky New York types and his skillful command of police minutiae, make the numerous incredulities here permissible.
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A superb effort from an emerging master of the genre. After turning down a job as assistant police commissioner, McKenna voluntarily downsizes himself back to the detective division, putting on his old First Grade badge at the tony 17th Precinct in midtown Manhattan, where his partner, the brassy, year-old Detective Maureen Kaplowitz, can still show him a thing or two—and the older, wiser, slightly mellowed McKenna is eager to learn.
No longer quite the hard-charging maverick we met in Detective First Grade , McKenna cleverly uses his knowledge of police bureaucracy to his advantage after he notices that the death of an AIDS-afflicted homeless man—seemingly frozen to death on a frigid night—bears a disquieting similarity to other deaths among Manhattan's street people. It seems that a gaunt character in a dark hat, known as Dracula, is slipping poisoned wine to homeless and HIV-positive men.
McKenna and Kaplowitz make speedy progress in pursuing the one who might be New York's first nonviolent serial killer when the tritely ambitious TV news reporter Heidi Lane decides that the cops aren't working fast enough and singles out McKenna for on-the-air goading and abuse.
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Mahoney works overtime piling up impeccably researched detail. A rousing improvement over Mahney's earlier efforts yields a coolly understated police procedural. The clammy comforts of squad rooms and precinct offices have never been better rendered.