El Camino Drive
This suspense novel, set in a rough-around-the-edges Detroit, is told in two timeframes. We move between the contemporary era of Detective Johnny Valentino and the 1970s of his father, Antonio, who was gunned down on El Camino Drive decades ago. Johnny begins the novel an alcoholic with a violent temper that gets him suspended from his job and divorced from his wife. Left with little but a bare apartment and plenty of time, Jonny begins the process of reviewing his father’s case and bringing his murderers to justice. This takes him on the road to recovery. Many of Johnny’s personal problems are linked to the need to deal emotionally with this murder that the perpetrators never paid for.
Although Johnny lives in the same city as his father, he leads a vastly different life. Johnny chose a life of law and justice, an orderly life with a wife and children, until recently. His father, however, inhabited a world of organized crime that Johnny knows only peripherally. The investigation of his father’s death takes him into a world of gangsters and mob bosses, of decades-long vendettas. It was this community through which Antonio Valentino’s murder sent shock waves that continue to reverberate in the present. Johnny’s mother still grieves; his uncles remain committed to carrying out the vendetta placed on the murderers so long ago. At the same time Johnny begins the process of getting his father’s case reviewed and the perpetrators who had never stood trial brought to justice, a serial killer begins targeting the murderers. In addition, Johnny is drawn into an elaborate embezzlement scheme by a new girlfriend. Detective John Valentino, responsible for helping convict many criminals, finds himself on the other side of the law.
The prose, a little awkward at first, takes off with the suspense of Johnny navigating his broken life as he deals with two crimes. The more he learns about his father’s case, the more determined Johnny becomes to carry out the vendetta even as a serial killer begins targeting the perpetrators.
Some plot points strain credulity. The main one is that the killers all fled town and rebuilt their lives in different places in the United States as if the past can be erased that easily in modern times. In addition, Johnny’s uncles could have easily located them to carry out the vendetta rather than wait forty years for the perpetrators to return to town. Forty years in some places are treated like two or three. There are some editing issues that are distracting at times, but overall this is a satisfying story where all roads lead back to El Camino Drive.
|Cassino Publishing Inc
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|Mystery, Crime, Thriller