THE FOURTH VICTIM (2008)
By Reed Farrel Coleman (originally written as Tony Spinosa)
2nd Joe Serpe Book
Several home heating oil delivery drivers have been robbed and murdered. Joe Serpe and Bob Healy, now partners in an oil company of their own, make sure their drivers are safe. But when Rusty Monaco, another ex-NYPD detective, becomes the killer's fourth victim, Serpe and Healy take matters into their own hands. In the course of their unofficial investigation they stumble upon a completely different set of crimes that lead both Serpe and Healy back onto the streets they protected as cops.
After the fourth oil truck driver on Long Island, NY, is robbed and murdered, Joe Serpe and Bob Healy, former cops-turned-home oil business partners first introduced in Hose Monkey, get involved because the latest victim is a former New York City police officer who saved Serpe's life. The bits and pieces of information that Serpe and Healy uncover make no sense. In the end, there is no winning, but the partners find a measure of peace. This gritty crime novel will suit readers who like Reggie Nadelson's street savvy and Michael Connelly's sense of hard justice. Spinosa is the pseudonym of Edgar Award nominee Reed Farrel Coleman, author of the award-winning Moe Prager series (Soul Patch). —Library Journal
Serpe and Healy form an engaging team that’s easy to root for. —Kirkus Reviews
Spinosa, aka Reed Farrel Coleman, has ginned up a really hard-edged novel set in a wonderfully gritty milieu and filled with fully fleshed characters. The plot lays out a labyrinthine but believable trail of violence, murder, corruption, politics, deep-dyed racism, and big money. Serpe and Healy are a terrific odd couple, but a dozen lesser characters are also compelling, often for their sheer coarseness or loathsomeness. Even Spinosa’s depiction of the fiercely competitive, hardscrabble business of home heating-oil delivery rings with authenticity (the author actually has a commercial license to convey hazmat materials). If that’s not enough, the first line of this fine novel—“At his best, Rusty Monaco was a miserable, self-absorbed prick, and tonight he was paying even less attention than usual to the world outside his head”—is one of the two best first lines this reviewer has come across in 25 years of hard-boiled reading (the opening to James Crumley’s The Last Good Kiss is still the best). -Thomas Gaughan