All These Ashes

Polis. Sept. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9781951709501. $26.99. M
This intricately plotted sequel to Line of Sight (which was the debut novel by Los Angeles Times crime reporter Queally) combines a gruesome cold case with Newark’s dirty politics. Like its predecessor, it features reporter Russell Avery, who became a private investigator when his police sources in Newark, NJ, dried up. Avery is still dreaming of landing a big story, but now he’s been hired by police lieutenant Bill Henniman to investigate “the Twilight Four,” Newark’s most notorious case. It began in 1996, when four teenagers disappeared. Back then, a confidential informant told police that Abel Musa was claiming to have killed the four teens by locking them in a building and setting fire to it; on that basis, Musa was eventually convicted of the crime. Now, 24 years later, Musa is dying and has been released for prison on compassionate leave. Henniman doesn’t believe that Musa was the killer and wants Avery to find out who did kill the four teens. In the course of his investigation, Avery is set on fire in a booby-trapped house, watches his sources die or disappear, and gets mired in Newark politics. It’s a violent, difficult case that forces Avery to struggle with his own ethics. Does he want to find the killer because he hopes to provide answers for Henniman, Musa, and the families of the Twilight Four? Or is he just looking for his big story?
VERDICT Fans of Brad Parks’s “Carter Ross” crime series, also set in Newark, will appreciate Queally’s latest story featuring reporter-turned-investigator Avery.
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