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City of Fear


City of Fear

It is probably premature to say this on the strength of just two books, but I’ll lay it out anyway: Larry Enmon is the heir apparent to the mantle of the late Ed McBain. Enmon’s Rob Soliz and Frank Pierce novels have much in common with McBain’s classic and heretofore never-matched 87th Precinct series. Both are set in large, complicated cities; both feature an ensemble cast with a main character (or two) shouldering their way to the forefront; and both present straightforward mysteries that drive the story ever forward without excessive complication or self-awareness. Of course, it takes more than those elements to make a great story, and Enmon, page by page, quietly but effectively mixes the mortar that holds those bricks together. The result is an absolute joy to read.

CITY OF FEAR fulfills and exceeds the promise of THE BURIAL PLACE, which kicked off the series. Rob and Frank are paired-up Dallas detectives who are a study in quiet opposites. Rob is somewhat of a minimalist professionally, while Frank’s obsessive-compulsive nature essentially puts him on the job 24/7. Rob is a devoted husband to a fault, while Frank is an honorable rake, using his occupation, good looks and acquired skills as methods to lure and bed every attractive lady within the Dallas metropolitan area.

"Larry Enmon is the heir apparent to the mantle of the late Ed McBain.... CITY OF FEAR is perfectly balanced between characters and plots with a compulsive narrative that demands to be read in one sitting."

As the book opens, Rob and Frank are on a stakeout that ends in the death of notorious Dallas drug kingpin Ricardo Salazar. Frank saw a red-haired woman enter Rob’s residence just before his death. When the police arrive, she is no longer on the premises, but Salazar is singing in the choir invisible, dead as the apparent result of a mysterious powder that covers him and accompanied by what appears to be a voodoo doll. Almost by happenstance, Frank discovers the identity of the woman, a local college professor named Alma Hawkins, who is well-versed in the arcane arts. Frank shares his suspicions with Rob but does not report Hawkins, in part because he quickly falls under her sway.

Meanwhile, Salazar’s passing and the rumors surrounding it set off a chain reaction of events that ripple from Dallas to Chicago and New York. Concerned that the death of Salazar is the result of encroachment on his territory, a New York crime family boss sends a deadly hitwoman named Jesse Wilcox to Dallas to take out crime lord Antoine Levern, who has the most to gain from Salazar’s death, and his associates.

The shootings spark a wave of fear throughout Dallas, with pressure being put on Rob and Frank to find the culprit and end the bloodbath on the streets. Frank is troubled by the theory that the person who murdered Salazar and is killing Levern’s henchmen are one and the same. A bit of luck and some excellent police work resolve matters, or at least some of them. However, not every question has an answer as the conclusion demonstrates.

Enmon is terrific. CITY OF FEAR is perfectly balanced between characters and plots with a compulsive narrative that demands to be read in one sitting. I’m hoping for more --- lots more --- of Rob Soliz and Frank Pierce in the future.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on June 28, 2019

City of Fear
by Larry Enmon

  • Publication Date: June 11, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
  • ISBN-10: 1643850318
  • ISBN-13: 9781643850313