The second installment of the Callum Burke series comes back with a wallop, every bit as intense, gripping and unputdownable as its brilliant predecessor.
Rich with raw and well-drafted characters, this book (and this series) reads very much like an authentically gritty behind-the-scenes look at police procedure, banter, rivalry and partnerships; coupled with an intricate plot, plenty of unexpected twists and turns, and a wonderfully flawed and relatable main protagonist.
Callum Burke is an Irish cop, on secondment to NYPD, with a knack for getting himself into violently-escalating situations. A mass of contradictions , Callum is a former boxer, a “soulful Celtic type”, with eyes “so expressive and guileless” it’s hard for others to reconcile the sudden shift to “something pure and cold and relentless” awakening a “black hardness in his eyes” as his internal darkness “claws its way back to the light of day”.
Set in the time-capsule that was NYC in 1997, as Callum battles Russian mobsters, horrific murders, drugs, hustlers, and psychopathic hit-men, his most difficult challenge may be on a much deeper level. Estranged from his wife and daughter, finding himself suddenly emotionally vulnerable to newly-shared female affection, and still in the grips of “hot and savage” flashbacks from his time in Belfast in the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Callum is a mass of fried neural connections, desperate yearnings, and passionate volatility.
Once again playing with clever and subtle themes examining all sides of a fractured moral equilibrium, as Callum’s balance wavers, but seems to settle somewhat-squarely on the “hero” side of the scale, the author introduces a master “villain” as equally complex, triggered, traumatized, and troubled. A sort of evil doppelgänger to Callum’s brokenness, bearing similarity physically, temperamentally and in terms of latent psychological damage.
A troubling look at the many faces of darkness, rage, violence and loss – this book is a harshly-hitting example of crime-fiction writing at its peak. I’m looking forward to the next installment in this terrific series.
My stop today on the @rararesources #blogtour for #TheSkyTurnedBlack by @JohnSte_author
A great big thank you to the author and the publisher for an ARC of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.