Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Rip-Off by Mar Preston

The case looks simple to Detective Dave Mason.  A body is found at the scene of a robbery, and it looks like a case of burglars falling out and one shooting the other.  Newly promoted in the Santa Monica Police Department to being a supervisor, Mason can use an easy one to make him look good.

But the case gets more and more complicated the more it unravels.  This appears to be a highly structured burglary team who perhaps have inside knowledge.  There have been a string of break-ins at expensive residences, and someone has to be giving them ideas of where to rob next.  The latest victims seem to have more to hide than the burglars.  The lady of the house, a beautiful Eastern European named Irina, seems very unconcerned about her losses.  Her husband, the condo manager, seems edgy and preoccupied.  Then there are the Chechens.  Mason doesn't know much about this group, but they have been moving in lately and setting up a sophisticated criminal gang that is threatening to overtake the city.

Mason has enough problems without a complicated case.  He is still feeling his way as a supervisor, his former friends and colleagues now reporting to him in a new relationship.  His superiors are not exactly warm and supportive; they expect results and they expect them now.  His personal life is also unsettled; he is interested in Ginger but it's unclear where this romance is going and if she can adjust to life with a cop.

Mar Preston has written an interesting police procedural.  This is the second in the Dave Mason series, and readers will identify with his struggles. The plotting has an excellent feel for police work, the tedium and paperwork, the putting  together of minute clues to discern the true picture, and the sudden bursts of action that can take a life.   This book is recommended for mystery readers.

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