BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD
Fast-paced but ultimately unconvincing, this third novel by the author of The Narrowback and Bad Connection begins with the dramatic (but none too credible) downfall of New York City policeman John Coglin. The straight-arrow cop—about to be promoted, about to be married, about to become a father—finds himself facing a murder rap when he shoots a bad guy in the line of duty. While the jury deliberates, he gets a call from his ex-con, ex-IRA uncle, Aidan, a father figure to John when he was a teenager, asking him to come to Pennsylvania for a few final words. Figuring he has nothing to lose—he is convinced he will be found guilty—Coglin agrees to participate in a diamond heist with Aidan and an attractive young single mom. The heist goes spectacularly wrong—the wife of the vice-president of the United States is killed in what appears to be crossfire, bringing all manner of law enforcement down on the heads of the would-be robbers. The prose is competent and the action hot, but the convoluted, conspiracy-laden plot tests the reader's ability to suspend disbelief. Ledwidge usually doesn't provide his characters' backstories until after the action cools down, in a seemingly belated attempt to justify implausible decisions. His gritty thriller moves fast, but not quite fast enough for readers to ignore the reckless plotting. 5-city author tour. (Jan.)
Forecast:Extensive publicity—including a five-city tour and tie-in promotion with the mass market edition of Bad Connection—should keep sales brisk.