A Bullet for Carlos by Giacomo Giammatteo
Giacomo Giammatteo wrote one of my favorite books of the year, Murder Takes Time (read it, you won’t regret it), so it’s no surprise that his latest release is also a great book. This is not a continuation of the original series, but it has some parallels that make reading both books worthwhile.
In his new book, Connie Gianelli is a detective on an undercover bust gone bad. Two officers are killed and she is wounded; the press loves her but Internal Affairs has questions. To pacify everyone she is reassigned to a cold case which leads her from New York to Houston. Once there, she stumbles into the orbit of the drug kingpin behind the bad bust in NYC.
Her cold case turns out to be a serial killer still operating in Houston. Meanwhile, facts about the IA investigation keep spilling out of NYC where dirty cops and Italian mobsters compete with drug dealers connected to Houston. Family bonds are tested and ethics are pushed to the limits in pursuit of a cleared record and real justice. Our heroine ends up working with a likable good ol’ boy with a big heart and lots of Texas charm.
From there the story twists and turns until you reach the exciting conclusion. I don’t use that term lightly. In this case, Mr. Giammatteo has drawn such deep and complex characters that when you see where the plot is leading, you start reading faster and faster, hoping our heroine can fend off the forces of evil that you know are descending on her. Like a Hitchcock ending, you find yourself urging the heroine ‘don’t go in there… don’t go in there!’ (Then you look around the room to see if you yelled it out loud.)
This is a big, sprawling story, with plenty of deep characters and realistic ambiance. In fact, the characters are so deep that Mr. Giammatteo’s story resembles a Patricia Cornwell psychological thriller. And the serial killer is so expertly drawn that he will give you the chills (and make you wonder about the author’s sanity :). The author also details many aspects of daily life that make you smell the coffee, want to chime in on the office banter, and pet the dogs.
The only thing that held back a fifth star was that there was one big clue –so obvious that even the detective’s maid thought it should be followed up—that went ignored for too long. A minor annoyance easily overlooked in light of the terrific characterizations.
With this second book, Mr. Giammatteo has established himself as one of the finest indie authors publishing today and one to keep an eye on for the rest of the decade. It’s little wonder this book has been getting rave reivews.
Bottom line: Definitely a great read.