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Friday, September 11, 2015


4 stars out of 5

Reading works by writers who are picking up the character bandwagon that halted when the original authors died (Robert B. Parker's Spenser and Jesse Stone and Ian Fleming's James Bond come to mind immediately) has always been a bit of a bittersweet experience for me. In those instances, it's almost impossible not to compare the new with the old (although in some respects, that's as it should be; after all, they're writing about the same characters and, intentionally, in a similar style). 

This one, to which I was given access by the publisher through Netgalley, continues the work of the late Carolyn Weston, whose characters Sgt. Al Krug and his partner Casey Kellog became the basis for the TV show The Streets of San Francisco. To that end, I'm at a disadvantage; I've never read any of Weston's books. I was, however, a big fan of the TV show - which aired from 1972 to 1977 - and in particular of a very young and very talented Michael Douglas. So whether the author managed to capture the essence of Weston's books I can't say, but I do think it's reminiscent of the show and is an excellent police procedural in its own right.

It begins as Krug and Kellog - the latter new to the San Francisco Homicide team and mismatched with his partner in age, experience and attitude toward the job -  investigate a series of murders by the  "Landmark Strangler" (so named because the victims are found near well-known city landmarks). But when they take a look at the most recent, the fourth in just four months, something just doesn't seem right even though the body was found near the Presidio. Then, a nosy reporter with her eye on a Pulitzer questions the relationship of much-earlier murders to those of the strangler, adding a potentially new dimension to the investigation. When more clues lead to the office of a prominent politician, though, things really start to heat up: Krug and Kellog not only are under the gun to solve the cases, but under orders to avoid ruffling feathers of the powers that be.

The story held my interest from beginning to end, and for sure I'll be in line when and if the next edition is published. Meanwhile, I plan to check out some of the other books the accomplished Ms. Burcell has written!

The Last Good Place by Robin Burcell (Brash Books, November 2015); 289 pp.

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