Mark Mallen used to be an undercover cop with the goal of ridding his city of drug lords. In his paranoia that he would be found out, Mallen shoots heroin to figure out what it really feels like, knowing that he will be able to stop. Except he can't stop himself, he keeps shooting and eventually gets kicked off the force. He loses his wife, child, and years of his life.
Four years in to his haze, there's a knock at the door. It's a detective he once knew asking after his best friend Eric Russ who was shot and killed. Mallen knows Russ from the academy, where Russ became a beat cop and when Russ was killed, he had Mallen's name and address in his pocket. This normally wouldn't be unusually, however Mallen and Russ hadn't spoken for years. Infact, Russ too had turned to drugs and did some time on the inside.
Mallen wants to know why Russ had his information and who killed his friend. But he can't do that without quitting heroin. Is it enough motivation to stop taking H?
This novel is described as gritty and it's a perfect description. There is nothing tidy about this story. It has drugs, revenge, multiple murders, jail, dirt and grime. The characters are gritty too. All of them have good and bad, though the bad seems to want to be prominent in most of them.
I enjoyed Mallen as a character. He had his problems but seemed like a smart guy. I only wish that he had a bit more trouble resisting heroin because it seemed a bit too easy of a quit for me.
The only real complaint I have about this book is that at times I found Lewis' writing style distracted from the story. A sentence usually includes a subject, noun, and verb but Lewis would write a string of sentences that have no subjects. For example: "He decided to go to the bar, the house suddenly too small to hold him. Went downstairs to his room. Put on some different pants. Combed his thinning hair back."
I'm sure there will be another book in this series. It would be great to see Mallen become a private detective (I couldn't ever see him returning to the force) and getting back with his ex-wife. It should make for an interesting read!
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First Line: "Mallen woke up with the needle still in his arm."