Richard Hawke,
Speak of the Devil
(Random House, 2006)

I am feeling hawkish. When I first heard of the publication of another detective story set in New York, I presumed the book would be quick, witty and full of deep insights into the human condition. Naturally, I wanted to read it, if only through a loan from my local library. Books are prey to economic factors, after all, and since this writer was not a known quantity, and this was his first book, I thought a test run might be in order. But, here's the rub: I managed to secure my own copy, read it once, read it again and enjoyed it just as much the second time around. Imagine!

How many of us have stuck to the old faithful writers, eagerly waiting for yet another one of their books to come out, reading it in one sitting and then feeling the post-holiday let-down after finishing it? You know you do, don't you? In Speak of the Devil, Richard Hawke creates a believable character in the persona of Fritz Malone. Malone is an ex-cop, the son of a former commissioner in the NYPD and a love affair with Shirley, Malone's mother. Throughout the book, references are made to other cases, as well as Malone's past, that gives the reader a sense of reality and believability that adds to the likeability of this character. A smash-bang opening murder, the political fallout and a deepening web of deceit within the plot make this a page-turner.

In Fritz Malone, Hawke has created a narrative voice that evokes Robert B. Parker's extensive cast of main characters and Elmore Leonard's strong dialogue and gritty reality. One of my tests for the eminent suitability for casting a book's characters as one would a movie is in giving a three-dimensional feel within my imagination. In Malone, as well as in his lady-love, Margo, or in his mother, the salty Shirley, I see various actors with the charm and wit to go the distance. This book is a wonderful introduction for a new author, and gives him the right to be cocky.

by Ann Flynt
16 September 2006

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