Friday, May 20, 2011

The Graving Dock by Gabriel Cohen

Part Of The Synopsis From Dust Jacket:

In the chill of winter, a homemade coffin drifts ashore in New York Harbor, containing the body of a boy with the letters "G.I." written on his forehead.  As a detective with Brooklyn South Homicide, Jack Leightner finds that corpses are a part of every working day.  But today his attention is riveted on a considerably smaller box, containing an engagement ring for his girlfriend Michelle...

This is one of those books that I picked up for a dollar at the Dollar Tree last year.  Thankfully, I finally got around to reading it recently and I'm now thinking that the Dollar Tree is the coolest place to buy books. What I did not know at the time, and what has added to my wish list, is that this was the second book in the Jack Leightner series.  Other than referencing a few incidents from the first book, this is okay as a standalone read.  I've never been a fan of police procedurals, but since reading In the Woods by Tana French, I've been a little more open to them.  That doesn't mean I'm sold on the genre, as I like detective stories more, but if I keep reading books like this, I'll get there.

Jack, who is recovering from a gunshot wound sustained in the first book, is a man trying to find his equilibrium again.  He has a new relationship that started right before the shooting and has progressed since then.  What I found interesting about it was.....okay, this is going to take a little off the wall thinking.  One thing that I've always found annoying about movies, let's take "Speed" for example, is that a traumatic event brings people together and by the time the credits start to roll you are left with the impression that everything is going to be perfect afterwards.  Logically, what the hell kind of sense does that make?  Do you really think a relationship based on need or adrenaline is really going to work out once the normall day-to-day events start to happen?  Come on, that's just dumb.

Now while Jack and Michelle's relationship is not exactly like Jack and Annie's, it's pretty damn close.  Jack and Michelle did go on a few dates before the shooting, but they really didn't KNOW each other.  Once Jack is shot, Michelle is by his bedside and helping him recover once he's out of the hospital.  The book starts off on a date, where Jack is ready to propose to her, though a missing ring gets in his way.  Jack, who is in his forties, and Michelle seem happy but they are now having to adjust their lives to accommodate Jack going back to work and being away form home for long periods of time.  Michelle, who I think really does love him, doesn't seem to be able to deal with who Jack is and ends up flaking out on him.  Now this is a series, and I've read the synopses of some of the proceeding books, and it looks like things may work out. But in this book, things just kind of blow up in Jack's face.  What I loved about them as a couple, is watching them struggle with trying to get to know each other outside of crisis mode.  The give and take was a treat to read even if things didn't quite go as planned.

As far as the mystery goes, I found it to be well crafted and done in such a way that I actually cared about the reasons the killer was going around killing people, some more mercifully than others.  Jack comes across as a smart, dedicated detective who truly cares about the dead.  He wants to find out what happened to them, to give them their voice back and allow justice to be done.  He, along with a troubled new partner, are trying to catch the killer before he strikes again.  The case takes them to Governors Island, which was used by the U.S. military for basing for over 200 years and had only been empty since 1996 when the U.S. Coast Guard closed it's base.  The case keeps bringing them back to the island;  it's the place the coffin was put into the water, the second body is discovered there, and as Jack keeps digging deeper, he realizes the killer has ties to the island.

As the case progresses, Jack is forced to deal with Michelle and ends up investigating his partner who keeps showing some rather guilty behavior.  It doesn't help that since it's Brooklyn, Jack is constantly in rotation for new cases which must be worked at the same time.  Like a lot of good cops, Jack is able to multitask and he works every lead he can to make sure he solves them before it's too late.  He is thrown some serious curve balls during the investigation, both professional and personal, but like anyone who is dedicated to his job, he doesn't let them derail him.  By the end of the book, he has solved both homicide cases he was working and makes sure the young boy is given a proper burial.

I loved this book and this character, so much in fact that I'm going to have to go out and buy the rest of the books, despite my need to buy other books as well.  Jack is a terrific character and I'm looking forward to getting to know him even more.

Challenges: M&S


bermudaonion said...

What a find for you! This sounds like a good, realistic book. I know exactly what you mean about the unrealistic relationships in other books and movies.

Yvette said...

Sounds good, Ryan. Terrific review, as usual. I've never heard of this writer. But I am a fan of police procedurals AND there's always got to be a first time. :)

Staci said...

The synopsis actually caught my attention! Who would have thought that you would get a winner from the dollar store??? Sounds like this could be a fantastic read!