cover image The Murderers

The Murderers

W. E. B. Griffin. Putnam Adult, $23.95 (396pp) ISBN 978-0-399-13976-5

One challenge of series writing is to make each individual novel stand on its own, and Griffin almost succeeds with this fast-paced slice-of-cop-life entry in his Badge of Honor series, the sixth volume overall (after The Assassin) and the first to be published in hardcover. The story, set in 1975, centers around the murder of Philadelphia policeman Jerry Kellog, perhaps committed by a corrupt cop because Kellog's wife, who's left him for another cop, has revealed that her husband's narcotics unit is dirty. Meanwhile, bar owner Gerry Atchison hires a small-time hit man to kill his cheating wife and his thieving business partner. Finding solutions to the three murders unites Giffin's huge cast of characters, among them high-profile detective Matt Payne and take-charge Sgt. Jason Washington, both of Special Operations. Heavy on the dialogue and action, with a touch of politics and a dash of soap opera, this swiftly paced novel has the feel of a breezy, expansive ensemble piece. But it lacks the solidity of many stand-alone novels and, though engaging enough, gives the impression of characters and an author who are already looking toward the next book. (Jan.)