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Polis. (Michael O’Higgins, Bk. 2). Apr. 2021. 336p. ISBN 9781951709235. $26.99. M
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In the second “Michael O’Higgins” novel (after Last Ferry Home), SFPD detectives Michael O’Higgins and Marvin Lee grapple with personal traumas while they hunt for Emma Barre, a French teen with a hearing impairment, who appears to be the latest victim of a serial killer abducting European girls from San Francisco’s tourist hot spots. Harrington juggles multiple story lines, including a recent botched police operation that left Lee wounded, Lee’s wife Cassie’s secret earlier life as a sex worker, and Lee and O’Higgins both seeking solace in alcohol. O’Higgins deals with multiple issues—including his war experience, the death of his wife, recently learning that he was adopted, and his daughter’s departure to college—by microdosing LSD.
VERDICT The book’s gritty and violent realism reads like the San Francisco cousin to James Lee Burke’s “Dave Robicheaux” series, but with plot convolutions that feel like melodrama. (Cassie’s story line moves quickly from unlikely into the realm of unbelievable.) The lead character, O’Higgins, never develops beyond his collection of personal issues, leaving the book without a captivating core. While Harrington (The Good Physician) is an author to watch, this ambitious police procedural is ultimately unsuccessful.
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