Red Hook, by Gabriel Cohen *****

redhookI am generally a six-book-at-a-time reader. I have different books in different rooms; books on my e-reader, paperbacks, and hard covers. Red Hook is one of those unusual books, though, that has kept me from my other reading. Once Net Galley gifted me with a free copy, the story picked me up by the front of my shirt and kept me reading, even when the normal demands of daily living beckoned. So you say it was nominated for the Edgar Award? Why am I not surprised?

No, there are no ghosties or hobgoblins or other supernatural things that go bump in the night, but the story packs enough goose pimples in the plot alone to make it an October-worthy read.

The story is police procedural in format, and bounces between two points of view, that of the protagonist, a New York City cop named Jack, and his son Ben, who lives close by, but with whom he has a remote relationship. Jack’s fear of losing control of himself stands in the way of his capacity to develop and maintain close relationships; to say more would be a spoiler.

Son Ben, now (barely) grown and 23, is a documentary film maker, and is interested in producing a documentary on Red Hook, the Brooklyn neighborhood in which his father grew up. Jack, on the other hand, has too many ghosts that await him there, and he avoids the place like the plague. And from there, the story builds to a place that may keep you awake long into the night.

Cohen does masterful work at developing character, plot, and pacing, and setting, while not quite as deft, is still stronger than most writers. This is a must-read for anyone who enjoys police procedurals. I look forward to reading the rest of his work.

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