My Throwback Thursday choice this week is Dead Is Dead, the third in the Jack Bertolino series, published in May 2016.
Private investigator Jack Bertolino, previously an inspector with the NYPD, is employed as technical advisor, consulting on a movie being made of his last case. His job includes protection for the female star, who is being targeted by a disturbed, out of control stalker. Susan Blake is beautiful, haunted by a past that she can’t lay to rest.
During filming there’s an actual shooting several blocks away, which results in the accidental and tragic death of little Maria Sanchez and also that of known drug dealer, Tomas Vegas. Cruz Feinberg, the technical wizard in Jack’s company, knows the Sanchez family and asks Jack to make some enquiries. As Jack’s investigation progresses the Dirk brothers’ names pop up too often for Jack’s liking and his ingrained cop’s instinct is on high alert.
Toby Dirk and his brothers, Sean and Terrence, dip into various illegal activities, including theft, drugs and money laundering, under the cover of their family retail store. As Jack follows a trail of bodies he’s drawn into the dark and dangerous world of drug cartels and street gangs, which all began with a murder committed with revenge in mind.
Unfortunately for Vegas, he’d set up Toby’s girlfriend, Eva Perez, for a nine-month stretch on trumped-up drug and weapons charges. She’d been out on parole for three months now, but she was changed. Damaged. Not the same free spirit. It broke Toby’s heart, and it fueled his rage.
Jealousy’s a bitch, he thought, and Vegas was about to pay the ultimate price. Three shots max, to make sure Vegas wouldn’t get up again. If all went according to plan, Toby would soon be paddling out into the Pacific, catching the late afternoon swells at Sunset Beach.
There’s a great cast of diverse characters, not least of which are the Dirk brothers, who make fabulous antagonists. The storylines and subplots are merged together beautifully in this tightly plotted and intriguing thriller. Written in the third person, it gives a good perspective from each of the main characters. John Lansing’s excellent portrayals, suspenseful and action-packed narrative are combined with snappy, realistic dialogue and clear, detailed imagery, including terrific descriptions of the locales…. and the food!
The pace builds quickly and the drama unfolds as details are revealed gradually with many surprises, and excitement, along the way. Jack and his colleagues have their work cut out to unravel the threads that connect everything together. It’s a gripping tale, ending with a volatile and tense climax. And one of the things I particularly enjoyed was the appearance of Jack’s ex-wife and his son, Chris, adding some humour to the storyline. I loved the previous Jack Bertolino books and this one more than lived up to expectations.
About the Book
Retired Inspector Jack Bertolino gets his first taste of the erratic nature of Hollywood when A-list producer, George Litton, options one of Jack’s recent cases for a film. Jack is engaged as the film’s technical advisor, which stars It Girl Susan Blake. But more importantly, he’s on hand to keep a protective eye on Susan, who’s being harassed by a disturbing cyber-stalker.
But that’s not all that starts to turn Jack’s world upside-down. When a five-year-old girl is shot dead in her family’s living room, just blocks from where the movie is being filmed, Jack realizes there are threads connecting the movie, the murder, a brutal gang of brothers, and a terrifying body count.
Will Jack be able to find justice for the young girl and keep Susan safe? Or will this be his last and fatal trip to Hollywood?