Saints of New York by R.J. Ellory — review

This lengthy novel could easily have been split into two or three books: a police procedural, a psychological study of a troubled man, or even a look into the lives of a troubled family or two. Instead, it wraps up all three themes in a single volume with Frank Parrish, a gifted but undisciplined NYPD detective, as the protagonist.

Parrish, the son of one of the most respected and decorated NYPD detectives, knows that his father was dirty. And because of that, he attempts to follow a different path. Nevertheless, in trying to do the right thing, he too often breaks the rules, and so is on a short leash at the job. He also drinks heavily, has his license suspended and is forced to undergo psychotherapy. He also is divorced, and has a troubled relationship with his daughter and ex-wife.

Frank becomes obsessed with a single case, involving what appear to be young girls being made to participate in snuff movies. He discovers at least six such cases, all tied by a common thread: the girls were orphaned and under the jurisdiction of family services, leading to the conclusion that someone in that organization was responsible either for the murders or for identifying potential victims for someone else.

The plots run together, as Parrish seeks to discover the truth: of his relationship with his deceased father and of his children, as well as the case that drives him to virtual distraction. At times, this reader felt the novel was overwritten and badly in need of editing. However, maybe this approach is necessary to achieve the full picture of the tormented character. In any event, despite those reservations, the novel is recommended.

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