A body has been found in the cold waters off of San Francisco. The deceased is Carlo Steffano, a well known and organized crime connected attorney. Steffano appears to be the victim of drowning, though not in its usual appearance. Detectives Andrew Johnson and his partner Chuck Camozzi are called upon to investigate. Johnson has familiarity with Steffano and his clientele. The initial circumstances assume an added mystery with the discovery of another body. The other victim is a known Mexican drug dealer. Johnson’s hackles are raised as the drug trade connections appear to be more than just coincidental to the deaths. The detectives visit Steffano’s widow, who has connections to the shipping industry and also doesn’t seem too distraught at her husband’s demise. The detectives soon investigate a recently docked ship, where questions soon lead to another body dropping.
The conflict in Korea and the creeping paranoia ushered in from the onset of the Cold War has left San Francisco as a linchpin for extralegal activities. Johnson’s goal is to investigate the case and clear the multi homicides, yet the hovering of corrupt officials and federal interference threatens this. Johnson has been fighting battles all his life, having left a divided Chicago, where his mixed-race was ridiculed and bullied. Johnson is an excellent investigator, yet he bucks authority, and mix in his drinking and poor romantic decisions, he is a volcano of volatility. Johnson’s relationship with a forensics investigator is complicated by history and the ignorance of the times. His waffling on a possible relationship with her is mingled with his reliance on her ingenuity as respects scientific investigation. As Johnson and Camozzi penetrate the omerta of the underworld, their world is getting more dangerous. Johnson faces losing his livelihood and freedom from unseen forces. The drugs-weapons-money pipelines are running in every direction and no one who stands to profit wants it shut down. Johnson and Camozzi have their work cut out for them if they manage to survive.
China Basin is a rollicking mystery and thriller from the get-go. The plot is thick with intrigue and drama compelling the reader to keep reading, turning that next page until there are no more left. The characters are multidimensional and fascinating in their depth, Johnson’s persistence balanced by his self-destructive ways. RA Niles has crafted a tome of noirish, James Ellroy quality. A new addition to the must-reads of 2020.
|Page Count||351 pages|
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|Category||Mystery, Crime, Thriller|