“When you’re in a field full of horses, don’t go looking for zebras. All you’ll find is more horses.”
From the blurb: In his first hour back from a six-month leave of absence, Detective Jacob Striker’s day quickly turns into a nightmare. He is barely on the scene at his daughter’s high school when he encounters an Active Shooter situation. Three men wearing hockey masks – Black, White and Red – have stormed the school with firearms and are killing indiscriminately. Striker takes immediate action. Within minutes, two of the gunmen are dead and Striker is close to ending the violence. But before Striker can react, Red Mask flees – and escapes. Against the clock, Striker investigates the killings for which there is no known motive and no suspect. Soon his investigation takes him to darker places, and he realizes that everything at Saint Patrick’s High is not as it appears. The closer he gets to the truth, the more dangerous his world becomes – until Striker himself is in the line of fire.
First note: not for the faint-hearted. A lot of people die in very nasty ways.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way…
Striker is a solid character and well set up for future books; another Striker novel is set to appear in 2012. His romance with his partner seemed daft, ill-conceived and unnecessary – it was as if romance had been deemed a necessary ingredient, and Felicia was the easiest way to shoe-horn it in (also – anyone else think of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert when they see the name Felicia?). Courtney is a proper piece of work – a rebellious teenager who is still devastated by her mother’s death and not really speaking to her father, although still cooking for him and clearly devoted to him; a paradox entirely suited to a 15-year-old. I wasn’t much of a fan of Felicia or the other policemen – “Noodles” and “Meatloaf” became characterised more by their large size and rude vocab than by their capabilities. Deputy Chief Laroche, however, was a great anti-hero – annoying, prissy, too concerned with the media image to actually do any policing. I hope he comes back in further instalments.
Slater is a bit overenthusiastic with plot – in the end, not only is there an international crime cartel, but there are 5 parties to an old crime, crime scenes all over town (it took until page 300 for me to realise that we were in Canada!) and generally a few too many strands involved. I would have liked to see it trimmed down to 400 pages rather than 512.
The characters have potential but I don’t think I’ll be returning for the second instalment. Reilly Steel appeals to me much more.