cover image Blaze In, Blaze Out

Blaze In, Blaze Out

Joseph Lewis. Black Rose Writing, $21.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-68433-853-5

At the start of Lewis’s muddled fourth crime novel featuring police detectives Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann (after 2018’s Caught in a Web), the pair’s testimony ensures the conviction of Ukrainian crime boss Dmitry Andruko for murder and gunrunning. After they leave the Chicago courtroom, O’Conner and Eiselmann are menaced by Andruko’s thugs. Despite the threats, O’Connor follows through with a planned hunting and fishing trip in northern Wisconsin with a detective friend and four adopted teenage boys who are being raised by other friends. Eiselmann decides to decompress at home. Meanwhile, Andruko orders a contract killer to murder the detectives, and things get complicated when it becomes clear that more than one set of killers is seeking revenge on O’Connor and Eiselmann. The family dynamics of the teens, each with a traumatic past, can be hard to follow, though the final sequences in the woods are well paced and exciting. Lewis writes with more heart than head, frantically shoehorning in complex themes, backstories, and teasers for the next book, often at the expense of clarity. Those not already invested in this ambitious saga may find it a slog. Agent: Randi Davis, Davis Literary. (Jan.)