Robert K. Tanenbaum's OUTRAGE is not just an ordinary police procedural or a story about good vs. evil. It's a narrative that also embraces the consciences of the characters. A man sits in a cell wrongly accused and found guilty of a crime he did not commit. The District Attorney of New York, Roger "Butch" Karp, is thrown off his game when he realizes that the checks and balances he thought were working so well failed him.
Robert K. Tanenbaum is always on target with his characters, dialogue, plot and suspense, and he hits the ground running in OUTRAGE.
Karp has a large family: his wife, Marlene Ciampi, who has a long history of fighting crime herself; his oldest child, Lucy, who is in the Southwest planning her wedding; and his twin boys, Zak and Giancarlo, who are now in high school. Each of them is carrying his or her own baggage, which is one of the elements that makes Tanenbaum's books so delightful to read. They not only explore the justice system, they also highlight the sensitivity of a family comprised of people devoted to one another.
The Prologue is set in a courtroom where a trial has ended and the defendant has been found guilty of several murders. The penalty phase of the trial is about to begin, and the jury must now decide whether or not to impose the death penalty. But the defendant is not guilty.
The narrative unfolds with a detective so tunnel-visioned that he zeroed in on Felix Acevedo without giving a thought to any other possible suspects. The supposed killer is a youth who has a serious psychological problem, but it's not that he's a murderer. Rather, he's a battered child with no self-esteem and a great need to please anyone with whom he comes in contact. The detectives, who played "good cop"/"bad cop," didn't realize he would have confessed to anything they accused him of. He only wanted to please them so they would like him.
While this fiasco is going on, a sadistic rapist murderer is running around New York killing young women. He's a drug-addicted psychopath who loves the excitement he feels when he has the women in his power. He leaves no clues behind, and a false sense of relief arises with the Acevedo verdict. But the murders don't stop. Karp realizes too late that not only is the detective who jumped on the man now found guilty, he becomes aware of a young, very ambitious assistant district attorney too eager to close a high-profile case to be thorough in her pre-trial investigation.
Karp is appalled that his office is involved in this travesty. He has always prided himself on the fact that his office never brought a case until it was provable beyond a shadow of a doubt. Now between the two detectives who bullied Acevedo and the district attorney, he has a case that could threaten his reputation and that of his whole office. Meanwhile, Marlene, who has a vast capacity for danger, goes looking for the real facts of the case. She has two goals: find the real killer, and get Acevedo out of jail.
Robert K. Tanenbaum is always on target with his characters, dialogue, plot and suspense, and he hits the ground running in OUTRAGE. Readers will find themselves drawn into the story from the very first page. The final twist will come as a surprise and is worth waiting for as is the journey to get there.
Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on June 14, 2011