cover image The Dime

The Dime

Kathleen Kent. Mulholland, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-0-316-31103-8

Det. Betty Rhyzyk, a tough-as-nails Brooklyn cop transplanted to Dallas and the narrator of historical novelist Kent’s outstanding first crime novel, works undercover in narcotics. At almost six feet tall with flaming red hair and a steady girlfriend, she’s not the norm in Texas. When her latest case, involving notorious cocaine dealer Tomás “El Gitano” Ruiz, goes sour and leaves a stack of bodies, she’s understandably shaken­—and pissed off when the matter is turned over to homicide; Betty isn’t one to let things go. So she and her team, including partner Seth Dutton, continue to work the case on the sly, and it seems the case is working Betty, too, when a nasty present from a crime scene turns up in her apartment, courtesy of a stalker who waltzed in unbeknownst to Betty’s doctor girlfriend, Jackie, and left unnoticed. As the tension grows, Betty isn’t sure that the cartels are responsible, and her sources agree—this looks like something much closer to home and even more dangerous. Kent (The Outcasts) never sacrifices robust characters, or biting humor, during scenes of brutal violence, which, though disturbing, are essential to the rich plot. Agent: Julie Barer, Book Group. (Feb.)