Sunday, September 30, 2007

"The Cleanup" by Sean Doolittle

For some reason when Amazon recommended this, I thought it was a supernatural sort of thing, so I reserved a copy for myself. Imagine my surprise when my hubby informed me that it's a strict crime thriller, albeit a good one!

Matthew Worth is just barely a copy these days. He's been place on "provisional duty", mostly for taking a swing at the fellow officer who became involved with his now-ex-wife. He spends his nights working security detail at the Save More grocery store, bagging when the usual boys are out sneaking a smoke. He has a bit of a crush on one of the cashiers, Gwen. He knows that something's gotta give; he just doesn't know what.

When Gwen comes in one night needing help, Matt knows what's going to give. Gwen's boyfriend has been using her for a punching bag, the sort of abuse that Matt has long-standing issues with, and on this night, things have come to a head. She asks Matt if she can show him something and reveals to him her incredibly bruised back. Then she asks if she can show him something else at her apartment. Turns out the "something else" is her now-dead abusive boyfriend. Matt knows he should call it in; he's a cop, after all. But he also knows what will probably happen to Gwen, a fate that she doesn't deserve just for having horrible taste in men. So Matt does the unthinkable - he covers up the crime. He loads the body in the boyfriend's muscle car and disposes of it, calling on his older brother Vince for the huge favor. He cleans up the apartment, trying to think of all the things that the cops would look for and/or find as evidence. He takes care of everything, he thinks.

Little does he know that the boyfriend has been running product and revenue for Eddie Tice, who is tired of selling used and discounted furniture. Eddie's had a nice little gig going with the boys in Chicago and is finally making money for himself. He is not happy at the possibility that the boyfriend has skipped out with a very large sum of dough, nor is he happy at the fact that to "make good", he'll have to pay out of his own pocket. He enlists his enforcers in the quest to find the errant criminal and the money, thugs who are actually also cops.

Matt is dragged into a crazy world of small-town crime that wants to be big. He's trying to keep track of his lies and trying to keep his job. Most importantly, he's trying to do the right thing by Gwen, something that gets more and more difficult. He tells himself it's like trying to diffuse a bomb, picking the right wire to snip and hoping that you're that much closer to safety, rather than getting blown to bits.

My hubby was right - this was a good book. The plot is believable, the writing is tight, and the characters are likable but flawed. It's gritty stuff, and it doesn't always turn out the way you'd expect. I'm impressed enough that I'm going to try to find some of Doolittle's other titles (none of which we seem to have here at the library - sigh). If you're looking for something along these lines, I'd pick up "The Cleanup" as soon as you can find a copy.

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