A Detective’s Achilles Heel

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The Guise of Another, by Allen Eskens

I like mysteries, especially if they’re well written, and Eskens has been flirting with a literary version of the genre in his first two books. In many ways, The Guise of Another extends his command of the genre; in at least one other way, though, flaws have cropped up. “(NOTE: this isn’t a plot spoiler) Some 2/3 through this one, his protagonist, undercover cop, Alexander Rupert, shows one archetypal police failing (seduction by drug money) and he’s seduced by a woman he’s just met. I won’t comment of the former, but the latter mystifies me. A cop as savvy as Alexander wouldn’t be seduced as blatantly, even if it means a few more plot twists to the reader. But to give you a brief summary of the story:

Alexander has been indicted for taking drug money, something he’s good at denying, and his wife Desi has been leaning toward an affair. Alexander’s brother Max, also a cop, seems supportive, but his berating is getting under Alexander’s skin. Through a series of chance encounters only a cop would be faced with, Alexander becomes embroiled in a case involving yet another murder, which puts his own life in danger. Alexander is stalked by a hit man, Drago Basta, as our Alexander tries to uncover the truth about yet another man’s death.

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Eskens handles this story’s twists artfully until he folds under the aforesaid woman’s wiles. Tests and plot upsets are what make detective stories go, but they must seem realistic in context, and this particular one fails muster. It’s a good read otherwise, though, and well written enough for the fledgling mystery writer to learn from.
My rating: 15 of 20 stars

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