cover image Tin Men

Tin Men

Mike Knowles. ECW (Legato, U.S. dist.; Jaguar, Canadian dist.), $15.95 trade pap

Knowles (Rocks Beat Paper) takes a break from Wilson, the hard-edged antihero of his past six novels, and proves he can write police just as well as he can criminals. After Hamilton, Ont. Det. Julie Owen is gruesomely killed and her unborn child stolen from her womb, three cops who all have unspoken connections to Julie catch the case. Os Green is “the heavy: a blunt tool that could only follow a line if it was on the way to someone’s jaw.” His partner, “Woody” Woodward, can “probe a suspect for weaknesses and exploit them without crossing a single line,” but he’s hiding a drug addiction. And Dennis Hamlet, a cop both partners dislike, is hiding a sexual proclivity he is not entirely comfortable with. As the mystery travels a twisted path where “Not every cop is dirty, but the good ones are,” Knowles plays the procedural aspects of the story against his characters, expertly scrutinizing how their personalities and psychology affect how they approach their jobs. Knowles may slightly overplay the cynical nature of his world with its hardboiled dialogue, unflinching brutality, and casual misogyny, but overall the novel is a dark, effective story that should please fans of world-weary police procedurals such as Ed McBain’s classic 87th Precinct series. (Apr.)