1980s were not the good old days of New York City: AIDS was just
surfacing as the silent and misunderstood killer. Columbian drug
cartels were butting up against the Russian mafia trying to muscle
their way into the high profit and high stakes of illicit drugs,
prostitution and gambling that had once been the exclusive domain
of the American mob and local gang warlords.
Retired NYPD detective Boomer Frontieri had made a conscious
decision that he was finally through with police work. In an
earlier vigilante-style foray (see Lorenzo Carcaterra’s
APACHES, 1997), Boomer led a band of renegade cops to solve a
vicious kidnapping. He gathered old colleagues and retired early
for medical reasons to bring justice home. It was police work where
they couldn’t flash a badge, and the unholy band broke the
rules to go where legitimate police officers couldn’t.
It is now a few years later, and somebody made a huge mistake.
Boomer’s niece, a beautiful young student working her way
through school as a waitress, is killed in a spray of bullets from
a mob-style shootout in the restaurant where she works. It was the
wrong place and wrong time for her, and definitely a wrong move for
the killers. Boomer discovers that the hit was the result of
competition between two powerful warlords: Natalie Robinov, the
beautiful heir to the Czar of a Russian mob, and Father Angel
Cortez, a Columbian man of the cloth who has jumped the barrier
between good and evil to run a worldwide drug cartel.
Boomer contacts his former partners for a last hurrah at police
work. Ex-cops with names like Dead-Eye and Reverend Jim are still
around when he makes his first phone calls. Others are dead or not
interested, but he soon finds newly-retired cops still hungry for
action, especially when they learn what he has in mind. And so the
Apaches ride again as he forms a motley crew of beat-up, shot-up
ex-cops, each with nothing to lose and scores to settle in ways as
compellingly personal as Boomer’s.
There is Andy, a young cop from the Medical Examiner’s office
with AIDS; Stephanie, an ace arson investigator who is scarred
physically and emotionally when a psychotic arsonist trapped her
during an arrest; and the most unlikely ex-cop of all, Buttercup, a
125-pound Neapolitan bull mastiff, retired on a full cop’s
pension after heroic duty that Lassie would howl for. These walking
wounded join Boomer, Dead-Eye and Reverend Jim in an elaborate plot
to pit the two opposing drug warlords against one another.
Carcaterra devotes several early chapters to developing the chief
characters and supporting players who figure in the coming
machinations to trap the bad guys. We are thoroughly acquainted
with all the main players before the real action takes place,
sometimes to the point of wishing he would cut to the chase. The
author --- who penned not only APACHES but also SLEEPERS, the
bestselling novel that went on to become a box-office hit, and
several other bestseller copy stories --- also produces scripts for
“Law and Order” and other television shows. But he has
mastered the art of crisp storytelling and metaphor-laced tough-guy
dialogue, creating memorable, larger-than-life characters. When the
final action explodes, you know who’s who and why they do
what they do. Never fear --- action erupts throughout the book,
often in grisly detail before the final showdown.
Reader beware: if this were a movie, it would be produced by
Quentin Tarantino or the late Sam Peckinpah. CHASERS is tough
stuff, but that’s what Carcaterra does best.
Reviewed by Roz Shea on December 26, 2010