In the Shadow of the Arch by Robert J. Randisi
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
After his police career in New York is ruined, Joe Keough moves to Saint Louis, Missouri, and gets a job with the Richmond Heights PD. An hour into his first day, a three year old boy walks into the police station, leaving a trail of bloody footprints. But he connected to the string of murder-kidnappings all over St. Louis count?
I had this book pushed on me several minutes after I was told Randisi would be a guest on The Review Board in coming weeks. So far, not impressed.
In the Shadow of the Arch had a lot of strikes against it going in. First off, I wasn't really keen on reading it. Secondly, it features a serial killer. These facts didn't consciously influence my opinion of the book but they probably didn't help.
Looks like I'm going to attempt the compliment sandwich approach to this review to lessen the blow. I loved a lot of the St. Louis details worked into the story. To me, New York is the city of skyscrapers I see on TV and two airports I've spent some time in. St. Louis is nearly my back yard so I was thrilled with the authenticity of cops calling the The West County Mall "The Bird Mall," and it was twelve kinds of awesome when Keough and Steinbach ate at Gingham's, the greasy spoon I used to eat at all hours of the night after seeing bands in dive bars.
Unfortunately, getting St. Louis cultural references was most of my enjoyment. First off, while the book was first published in 1998, the internet and cellphones are nonexistent. Not only that, wives are constantly deferring to their husbands, making this book feel like it took place in the late 1950's. Some of the St. Louis references also seemed a little off but the good far outweighed the bad on that score.
Those gripes, however, paled in comparison to Keough and the various St. Louis police departments. Apparently, despite St. Louis being nicknamed Murder City because of the crime rate, the STLPD ran around like a bunch of monkeys trying to fuck a football until supercop Keough took charge. Jackson makes incredible leaps of logic to figure out who the killer was before even Keough but he is killed before we ever get to find out how he did it! Keough was kind of an asshole but it didn't annoy me as much as his "New York Attitude" mentioned once every other page.
I said I was doing the compliment sandwich so I guess the other piece of bread will be it was a pretty engaging read despite the annoyances. I'll give Randisi the benefit of the doubt and not completely write him off just yet. Two out of five stars.
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