Yet another book that I may not have checked out if left to my own devices - Novak's Mission by James H. Lewis. I had the pleasure of meeting and connecting with James (Jim) in my writer's group, and knew from the beginning that he was a talented writer. When I found out that he already had a book published, it went straight onto my reading list.
Novak's Mission follows Karol Novak, a formally retired detective who takes a job at a scandal-ridden police force in a small, fictional Pittsburgh borough. The details of the setting alone are tremendous, but it's the multiple storylines weaving together that really had me hooked. A chain of gas station robberies, a thirty-year-old murder case, rampant corruption within the precinct...could it be possible that all of these seemingly isolated incidents are actually connected?
Despite the large cast of characters, it was easy to keep everyone straight thanks to their well-fleshed out personalities. I was drawn in to each character's story and their personal lives, even if it didn't seem to have much to do with the plot. I was left guessing how everything would wrap up until the very end, and I loved the way everything came together.
Police dramas aren't really my thing, but I definitely made an exception with this one. Often times, police dramas focus on glory and heroism. This is not the case here. Novak is an ex-retiree, dealing with ongoing issues from a past injury, and he just wants to get the job done. I especially appreciated that Novak could see the corruption and misbehavior in the police force and made a real effort to fix it.
This is the first book in the Chief Novak book series, with the second, Novak's Quest, set to release very soon. There is a sneak peek of Novak's Quest at the end of the Novak's Mission, and I got a little extra taste when a section of it was submitted for critique in our writer's group. I can say with confidence that it is going to be great - maybe even better than the first.