By Any Means: An Ash Rashid Novel
If you like Michael Connelly and Harry Bosch, you should be reading Chris Culver and Ash Rashid. Bosch and Rashid are quite different. Bosch lives in L.A. and is a member of the LAPD closed case squad, while Rashid, a devout, moderate Muslim --- and a recovering alcoholic --- is with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and, when he is not otherwise in trouble, is a homicide detective. While reading BY ANY MEANS, the latest Rashid novel, I found that the two men are similar, given that both are haunted by their own specters, have some difficulty with authority, and, in any given circumstance, are the smartest person in the room, more often than not. Furthermore, Connelly and Culver are master storytellers; start one of their books, and it becomes velcroed to your hands until tale’s end.
"This is a very character-driven novel, and, as with all great storytellers, the majority of the joy of reading BY ANY MEANS is the journey that Culver provides to the reader, all the way to its satisfying and somewhat bittersweet ending."
Culver is not as well known as Connelly at this point, but that may change soon. The story opens with Rashid returning home at the end of another day of visiting schools in his role as a D.A.R.E. officer; it’s worthy work, but not what he signed on for. He is hurrying home in order to enjoy a break in the Ramadan fast when he comes across what seems to be a single vehicle accident. On close examination, however, he discovers that the driver and passenger are dead, murdered by gunshots fired from the back seat at close range. The murders are soon tied to a subsequent carjacking nearby.
Rashid suddenly finds himself relieved of his D.A.R.E. duties and in charge of the investigation, which results in him running just a few procedural steps behind the shooter. He needs to catch up quickly; the murdered passenger is the estranged daughter of Kostya Bukoholov. As we quickly learn, Bukoholov is not a man to be trifled with; he is a criminal kingpin who does not suffer fools lightly, if at all, and he is not about to sit back and let the wheels of American justice turn ever so slowly. Bukoholov is more than ready to take matters into his own hands, making it all the more imperative that Rashid catch the doer and bring him in.
Culver pulls off a neat trick here; one instinctively wants to cheer Rashid on, given that he is, of course, the good guy, and a sympathetic one. If he can solve this case and do so quickly, he’ll be back to investigating homicides rather than dealing in community relations. As bad as Bukoholov is, though, one cannot help but cheer him on as well, given that a little rough but effective justice might be just the thing that the streets of Indianapolis need. Things proceed along quite smartly, with Rashid and Bukoholov both conducting very different types of investigations as they pursue the shooter, who, of course, has motives all his own.
While the ending is not exactly predictable, it is not entirely surprising, either. This is a very character-driven novel, and, as with all great storytellers, the majority of the joy of reading BY ANY MEANS is the journey that Culver provides to the reader, all the way to its satisfying and somewhat bittersweet ending. I would recommend jumping on this series now while it is still early. And, by the way, if film rights aren’t locked up for the series and characters by now, someone is missing a deal. Just saying.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on June 6, 2014