Murder Book

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9780061097379: Murder Book

Billy McGrath is an enigma. He's a philosopher turned homicide detective, one of L.A.'s best. Broke and deeply unhappy, he's a loner whose dedication to the job cost him the woman he still loves and the daughter he'd die for. An honest man, for fifteen years McGrath has tried to do the right thing, sticking by the rules despite the injustices of a corrupt system. But all that's about to change.

It seemed like a routine assignmenta woman dead on a kitchen floor in a seamy neighborhood. But the victim's son is L.A.'s biggest drug lord, and now he's made McGrath an irresistible offer: $1 million for the name of the killer. Making the wrong choice for the right reasons, McGrath is about to initiate his own ruin, a fall from grace that will lead him to the truth and to bittersweet redemptiona riveting ride through the darkness of a tarnished city, and into the deepest folds of his own soul.

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About the Author:

Richard Rayner was born in Bradford, England, and now lives in Los Angeles. His previous books include the memoir The Blue Suit, and the novel L.A. Without a Map, which has been made into a movie staring Johnny Depp, James LeGros, and Julie Delpy. He writes for The New York Times, The New Yorker, Granta, Harper's Bazaar, and other publications. Murder Book is his first work of commercial fiction.

From Kirkus Reviews:

An ambitious and dauntingly convoluted noir-derived thriller from the author of The Elephant (1992) and the penitential memoir The Blue Suit (1995). Its protagonist and narrator, Billy McGrath, is a former philosophy student and now head of the LAPD's homicide division. Turned 40, divorced from the woman he still loves (herself a former cop, paralyzed in a shooting incident) and fumbling to be a decent father to his beloved preadolescent daughter, Billy takes very personally his latest case, the brutal torture murder of a local drug dealer's apparently innocent mother (``I thought,'' Billy muses, ``that if I could stop something like this from happening even once . . . then being a police officer would be worthwhile''). Not a chance. While compiling documentary evidence for the ``murder book'' the department keeps on (aforementioned victim) Mae Richards, Billy uncovers a snake's nest of erotic, political, and more generally criminal intrigue (not excluding his own corruptibility) that acquaints him with an O.J. Simpsonlike celebrity acquitted for his wife's murder, an obstetrician burdened by dubious medical (and other) ethics, and a wonderfully cold- blooded goon named Tookie Cross--and mushrooms into several more ingeniously nauseating killings. It's all highly readable, and quite capably plotted--despite embarrassingly close echoes of Chinatown, The Silence of the Lambs, any number of Dashiell Hammett novels, and, most egregiously, Richard Price's vastly superior Clockers. Furthermore, Billy McGrath is immensely likable in his innate decency and credibly human fallibility, but Rayner dilutes this fine characterization by allowing Billy to quote eminent sages at absurdly inappropriate junctures (e.g., while interrogating a suspect: ``Robert, do you know what Jung and William James had to say about human personality?''). Murder Book will make a hell of a TV miniseries, but it's too derivative and miscalculated to be a really effective novel. Not a bad try, but not the big one Rayner was obviously aiming for. -- Copyright 1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Richard Rayner
Published by HarperTorch (1999)
ISBN 10: 0061097373 ISBN 13: 9780061097379
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