Book Review: Never Kill a Friend by Martin Hill

never-kill-a-friendNever Kill a Friend
Martin Hill
Ransom Note Press, June 2015
ISBN 978-0-9773-7870-8

From the publisher:  Detective Shelley Krieg has lived her entire life in Washington, D.C.  At six’4”, she’s the giantess of DC Metro – – a tough cop who’s played by the rules on her long path to becoming a detective in the city she loves.  But when Rafael Hooks is arrested for killing his brother, all the rules change.  Shelley finds herself not only fighting the system, but also questioning her relationships with her co-workers, her closest friends, and even her partner.  It seems like an open-and-shut case:  Raffi confesses to murdering his drug-dealing brother.  But nothing is as it seems.  Each time Shelley finds evidence to exonerate Raffi, new evidence arises to confirm his guilt.  Fingerprints tying Raffi to multiple murders in both DC and neighboring Maryland suddenly appear out of thin air.  And on his first night in lock-up, Raffi is nearly killed.  With no allies left at DC Metro, Shelley turns to her estranged friend, Yasmira Tamer.  Together Shelley and Mira uncover a web of deceit and corruption that links a Russian assassin, a high-paid DC call girl, and an urban Robin Hood who renovates his crack houses before donating them to the poor.

Shelley, a 31-year-old African-American, works out of the Third Police District of Washington Metro, which extends “from embassies and gentrified townhouses to stretches of urban decay.”  The book opens with Shelley being called to the scene of a gruesome murder, the details of which I will kindly omit.  The young man who called 911 is 19-year-old Rafael Hooks, the aforementioned brother of the dead man, and Shelley is convinced of his innocence, his confession notwithstanding.  Her investigation leads her along unexpected paths, at times putting her in the cross-hairs of the assassin, being drugged in her own home, and not knowing who to trust, including her fellow police officers.  But she has to follow her conscience, and won’t stop till she gets to the truth.  The various plot lines did have this reader a bit confused at times (although not for too long).  The writing, although I did not feel it was particularly elegant, nevertheless pulled me along to the point that, surprisingly to me, I found myself at the end within forty-eight hours of opening it up to the first page.

This is the first in a new police procedural mystery series featuring Shelley Krieg, who is both a fascinating protagonist, and one tough gal.  I for one can’t wait for the next one!

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, June 2016.

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