Author: Robert K. Lewis
Publisher: Midnight Ink, April 2013
Genre: Crime Fiction
My Rating: B+
Mark Mallen had been a devoted cop, husband, father and friend. He lost it all while working undercover for the narcotics division of the San Francisco Police Department. He began using heroin because he thought he’d look more authentic to the drug world. Unfortunately, it hooked him.
As the story opens it’s now four and a half years later and he’s a hopeless drug addict. He’s disgusted with himself but can’t seem to stop. And then a couple of things happen serving as a wake-up call.
Mark learns of the murder of a very good friend who is also a former cop. This former cop, Eric, was also hooked on drugs but, supposedly, had quit and was turning his life around. Mark and Eric hadn’t seen each other in several years, but Eric had Mark’s name and address in his pocket when he was killed. Mark’s address wasn’t well known so he’s intrigued by that and wants some answers.
When Mark begins to investigate he gets sideways with a police officer. As he is taken in for booking he persuades a cop friend to leave him in “lock-up” for three days. Mark knows it’s a chance to get himself clean.
Although it’s agonizing, he makes it. When he gets out of “lock-up” he’s determined to stay clean. Keeping busy is part of his cure, so he keeps checking out inforaton about Eric’s murder.
Last Tuesday I shared the first paragraph of this novel (here) with you. At the time I said it felt like the author was channeling Sam Spade. By the time I finished the book I was convinced of it. It has a real Sam Spade-ish feel to it. San Francisco’s streets are a part of the story and there’s quite a bit of the city’s unerbelly in there too. It’s just right for a good crime novel.
The character of Mark Mallen is key to the novel. At first I just felt sorry for him. That changed to admiration as I saw his inner strength grow as he determines to stay away from drugs. Mark is a well-rounded character.
As you know, I prefer to read novels where the characters are like-able – truly good people at their core. After all, reading requires spending a lot of time with these people.
I’d like to spend more time with Mark Mallen. I believe I’ll have a chance to do that. The author’s website, Robert K. Lewis, says he is the author of the Mark Mallen series. Since Untold Damages is the author’s first novel, it sounds to me like there are more Mark Mallen books coming. Yay! I’ll keep watching for the next one.
Recommend? Yes, definitely for all crime and thriller readers as well as those who love spending time in San Francisco.
Thanks to the author/publisher for my copy of the book and to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to be a part of it all.