A Dark and Broken Heart
R J Ellory
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Orion; Hardback edition
24 May 2012
Quickly producing another fine novel to follow October’s Bad Signs, R J Ellory is becoming as prolific as he is good. With A Dark and Broken Heart (Orion), Ellory’s eleventh novel, the author has captured the very essence of what makes good men act badly and why bad men act as intrinsically as they do.
Vincent Madigan is charming, resourceful, and knows how to look after himself. The only problem is that he's up to his neck in debt to Sandià - the drug king of East Harlem. This one heist will free Madigan from Sandià's control and give him the chance he needs to get his life back on track.
But things go wrong when Madigan is forced to kill his co-conspirators and a child is shot in the crossfire. Now both Sandià and the collected might of the NYPD are hunting him down, and the one cop assigned to lead the case is the very last person he could have expected.
With his protagonist, corrupt cop Madigan, being a near alcoholic & drug dependent wreck, it might have been that his character became something of a cliché, fighting the good fight against himself and finding redemption in his own inimitable “Dirty Harry” manner. Not so, as Madigan is anything but two dimensional and that he is caring takes a little time to unearth but that he is also self-aware shines through on every page and so illuminates a depth to his persona that might otherwise be absent.
This sense of knowing what you think you’re going to get yet not actually getting any of it, is present in all of the characters but never more so than in Walsh, the bored Internal Affairs Officer who is so desperate to get back to the day-to-day grind of “real” investigating, he’s prepared to break rules aplenty to get what he wants.
Added to this is the sense of place and time that Ellory manages to pin down to the second, and so makes the novel as a whole somewhat McCarthy-esque in the manner in which it grips the reader’s attention and refuses to let go.
From the author of A Quiet Belief in Angels and Saints of New York, A Dark and Broken Heart is a worthy addition to the stable of an author who’s talent marks him out as one of the best around.
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