Dark Fissures: A Rick Cahill Novel
Hardboiled detective lore author Raymond Chandler lives on, in the guise of Anthony Award-winning Matt Coyle, creator of the Rick Cahill series.
Having barely survived incidents in 2015’s NIGHT TREMORS, Rick now has issues with the San Diego FBI office. He discovers that “[t]he FBI had a file on me.” Compounding that, neighboring La Jolla Police Chief Tony Moretti --- who now has political aspirations --- tightens a noose around Rick’s neck with a pending homicide charge. All the while, Rick faces mortgage foreclosure.
Country singer Brianne Colton dangles a $5,000 foreclosure stay to unearth evidence that her estranged husband Jim didn’t commit suicide. But Rick questions why Brianne --- whose “glare could cut glass” --- conceals a $2-million insurance policy that’s invalidated by suicide. Motive for murder shortly before divorce would remove Brianne as beneficiary?
"Each installment sets the hardboiled thriller bar higher, making DARK FISSURES my number one Top Pick for 2016."
Rick surmises, however, “that LJPD wanted Colton’s death to be ruled a suicide and not a murder.” The thing is, Jim was a La Jolla cop questioning Chief Moretti’s methodology and had placed a 17-minute call to the FBI office shortly before his demise. “The bank, Moretti, the FBI. The walls were closing in.” Enough weighted evidence on either side to break the scales of justice.
Thickening the mix is that Jim Colton was a former SEAL (Sea, Air, Land: the US Navy military special forces team) investigator tracking a horde of gold that went missing in the Mideast war zone. The SEAL colleagues make appearances, but are they there to help Rick uncover the truth or cover up the cause of Jim’s death? Had Jim located the gold intending to keep it for himself? Rick doesn’t know whom to trust, but his PI nose sniffs out the truth --- despite being shattered by a curvaceous kickass martial arts instructor.
Rick had “left a wildfire of burned bridges behind.” One of those charred spans is sleazy attorney Alan Rankin. Chief Moretti is squeezing Rankin’s short hairs, and the wealthy shyster offers Rick a way to mend the burnt bridge --- and eliminate the LJPD noose constricting Rick’s neck.
Dilemma is defined as a difficult choice to be made between two alternatives, especially those equally undesirable. Is there a word to describe the multiple infelicitous choices presented to Rick? “Sometimes you have to do what’s right even when all the rules say it’s wrong.” Switchback plot turns force Rick to make life-altering decisions, each wrong or right depending upon perspective.
The PI protagonist was acquitted but never exonerated of his wife’s murder a decade ago, which continues to haunt him. The character’s complete profile can be found in YESTERDAY’S ECHO, which opens the Rick Cahill series. Each installment sets the hardboiled thriller bar higher, making DARK FISSURES my number one Top Pick for 2016.
Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy on December 9, 2016