A hard-hitting, flawed protagonist, an all-important back-story that twists serpentine-like through the plot, and an ability to expertly entwine a foreign language throughout the novel without having to translate every expression, but still present her case, all help Dolcemaschio implant her red-headed, Italian cop into your world.
Elmore Leonard’s character in justified, U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, is portrayed as an angry individual, but he has nothing over John Testarossa, a rage-filled man, dark and brooding. From the back-story, we pick up snippets of his past as the child of a New York cop, a father who was shot and killed after being accused of being on the take. Testarossa is revenge-filled, always searching for the version of what he would like the truth to be.
In this debut novel, we are introduced to Testarossa on his new beat. He and his partner, Alex Ortiz, are called upon to solve a murder case involving a bunch of frat boys from the university row team. When the body is discovered and it turns out to be the coxswain, several of his room-mates and college team-mates come under suspicion, especially when they all seem to be caught up in a conspiracy involving illegal steroid use. The team coaches and doctor all seem to harbor their own secrets.
To complicate his life, Dr. Karen Gennaro, a local physician who always seems to be around whenever Testarossa or his detainees need stitching up—which is quite frequently—catches his attention, and Dolemaschio captures the romantic interludes in stride. Don’t be deceived, this is not your romantic-thriller genre. This is a down and dirty police procedural with all the blood and guts and all the bloody violence that drags you along into the streets. This non-stop brawl spills over from the street to the bedroom in this fast-paced tale that draws from today’s headlines for a feel of reality.
I was so affected by the story that I actually called the author—something I rarely do—to express my excitement for her work and to interject my thoughts. She was most gracious. She assures me there will be a sequel, for which I was eternally grateful. I need to know more about John Testarossa.