Where The Dead Lay
By David Levien
Lee Child named David Levien as the new must-read thriller writer...I totally support that assessment! After reading Levien’s latest book, Where the Dead Lay: How Far Will One Man Go To Avenge A Friend’s Murder? due out on July 2nd (UK), I promptly ordered his first book!
Frank Behr is a fantastic character! A former cop who, as oftentimes happens, lost his job because his boss didn’t like him. Now that boss has come to him seeking his help! Frank had been offered a job with a large corporation to find two of their staff who had disappeared. But Frank wasn’t interested, a good friend of his, Aurelio Santos, had just been murdered. Aurelio had been Frank’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu trainer and though not many words had passed between the two, still a friendship had developed between them that had been very important to Frank—and he intended revenge. His former boss wanted him to work undercover for the corporation to find the missing men, hinting that, if he was able to help, he might be able to get him back on the force. Frank knew that if he ever wanted to reclaim his life, getting his old job back would be a big step in that direction. So he decided he could work both investigations, but his priority was Aurelio’s murder.
First of all, Frank knew that it would have taken more than one man to kill Aurelio, given his size and expertise. As he became involved and studied the scene, he knew it had to be at least three men who had taken him down. He started the routine of talking with all of the students who had trained at Santos’s Academy. Little by little names were thrown out and, in turn, it became known that Frank was “looking” to take down those that had killed Aurelio.
The murder of Aurelio Santos had not been a pretty one—and it was not the only one! There were others across town that were similar and it turned out that they were all related to private "pea-shake" gambling houses that were being “closed” through the death of those who hosted the houses. Soon Frank realized that he didn’t have two separate cases!
Most of the action in Where the Dead Lay is physical—using the moves that were being taught in Jiu-Jitsu. Frank, however, had merged those skills with street smarts that made him an opponent able to take on anybody. A good thing, because the ones who were behind the trouble used ball bats, heavy flashlights, guns, knives and anything else that could be used to hurt or kill.
In the midst of Frank’s turmoil and concentration on his cases, his lover, Susan, confirms that she is pregnant and does not plan to take care of their child alone! This only increases Frank’s frustration because he had already lost his son and his former wife had divorced him after their child died. Could he handle going into another family situation?
After all of the dangerous close encounters among the good and bad guys, you would think some explosive, thrilling final fight would have Frank standing alone over the bodies! Not so! The closing is an ironic tribute to “live by the sword, die by the sword” that creates a surprising, final impact that is much more memorable!
David Levien is one of the top screenwriters in Hollywood, and co-writer for Ocean’s Thirteen and Runaway Jury; his writing is superb! Where the Dead Lay is his second novel featuring Frank Behr. May Frank live well and continue long as one of the most formidable characters you will find in a long time! Yep! I loved it...and can’t wait to read his first book, City of the Sun!
G. A. Bixler
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