A New York City public defender, Macie Wild, takes the homicide case of a burglar the tabloids have named the ‘Buzz Killer’ for his MO of lobby-buzzing apartments to select his burglary targets. But when he’s the victim of an attempted jailhouse killing and then someone tries to kill Macie, her murder case becomes something much bigger, and more dangerous. Stonewalled by a hostile DA and shut down by a code of silence among her client’s criminal circle, she crosses paths with Gunnar Cody, an ex-detective dismissed from the NYPD’s surveillance unit who seems to be working a similar case.
In spite of her misgivings about his methods—and initially unsure of his aims—Macie and Gunnar form an uneasy partnership. Throughout, Macie holds desperately to principles she worries are eroding even within her: “Is this how it begins?” she wonders at one point. “A blind eye to ethical breeches until you eventually become inured,” seeing dishonorable practices as standard procedure? Their collaboration and need for the truth will put them on a crash course with more than ethics.
Buzz Killer is a taught and compelling story, well told by a skillful author. The characters are well written, their struggles and qualms are real. And the story doesn’t skimp on atmosphere. New York City itself is a character in the drama. Early on, as Macie Wild, the protagonist, prepares to meet her client, she muses that New York, rather than a divided city of haves and have-nots has become in fact “a tale of three cities.” Through twists and turns, Macie and Gunnar’s quest will take them through all three cities, from the people who work for a living, to the rich and powerful, and into the roosts of the global elite, those silent perches throughout Manhattan, a third of which are vacant more than ten months each year.
Buzz Killer is excellent. It delivers on the standard mystery-suspense, and serves up more, prying open a door on a world that has taken shape and taken hold while few of us were looking. It’s familiar, yet new, and it’s chilling. As strong as the two leads are, the supporting cast offers an intriguing array of characters.
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