A Dark and Broken Heart

R.J. Ellory (A Quiet Belief in Angels) delivers a powerful crime thriller that opens with corrupt and drug-addicted NYPD detective Vincent Madigan staging a brazen robbery against an East Harlem kingpin named Sandia. Since Madigan is on the drug lord's payroll and an expert at covering his own tracks, he thinks no one can tie him to the crime, not even Sandia. But when his accomplices end up dead and the money turns out to be marked, Madigan enters a deadly cat-and-mouse game with his partners in the precinct, a rogues' gallery of criminal associates and the feared crime boss himself.

That one sympathizes with a ruthless crooked cop in R.J. Ellory's A Dark and Broken Heart testifies to his talents as a writer. He is a deft stylist. "He feels as if the edges of his mind have been frayed and weathered by some terrible storm," he writes of Madigan's addled mental state. Though the novel has its share of clichéd characters--the compromised police officer looking for redemption, the desperate lowlife looking for one last score, the unpredictably violent crime boss--the plot moves at a compelling pace, and its many twists never seem far-fetched. Ellory also provides convincing character depth in monologues woven throughout the third-person narration. "Dead if I do and dead if I don't. It's a web--thinly constructed, delicate, fragile," Madigan muses on the nature of his predicament. The detective's growing bond with an endangered witness named Isabella leads to the novel's most tender and human moments. True to form, though, Ellory never lets redemption come easy. A Dark and Broken Heart is an intense, bare-knuckle thriller that packs a powerful punch. --Scott Neuffer, writer, poet, editor of trampset

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