Review: The Reflecting Pool (Otho Eskin)

I do love a sardonic, grey-moral kind of main character.

Marko Zorn is a Washington, DC detective who dresses well, drives a Jaguar, and basically doesn’t look the part in this noir-ish book. He happens to catch a case of the death of a woman in the Reflecting Pool. He’s also been assigned a new, young partner who is part new guy, part puppy.

When he begins investigating the murder, he’s suddenly being told to stand down by everyone from the FBI to the Secret Service – all telling him to let it go, but as he tells the mysterious Miss Shaw, the woman looked like his dead sister, and he promised to find out who killed her.

In the middle f this, a woman named Sister Grace – a local gangster, and for whom Zorn occasionally does some jobs, which allows him to wear those snazzy clothes and drive that fancy car – has another job for him. This time, though, it’s murder, to take out her second in command (Cloud), who is getting a bit too full of himself. That, however, is a line Zorn has told himself he would not cross. Sister Grace doesn’t care about his ethics, of course, and tells him to figure it out.

The investigation flows along nicely, without things like DNA or toxicology coming back in thirty minutes. There are times when witnesses or interviewees melt a bit too quickly under Zorn, but it’s a good, fun (if murder can be fun) story that is both gritty and strangely polished at the same time, due to Zorn’s personal habits and the interplay of his professional role and coming into contact with Federal offices, and the jobs he does to appease what is basically his gangster boss.

I enjoyed the dialogue. It was neither too stilted nor trying too hard to be edgy. There were some instances where it was rather snappy, and overall, it was what you’d expect if you were shadowing a detective doing their job.

In the end, Zorn does figure out a way to complete the task given to him by Sister Grace, via proxy, by setting up Cloud and Cloud’s right hand against one another. That scenario was more believable than the conclusion of the mystery of the murder.

The reveal of the killer was a bit of a letdown,and I didn’t think it was totally believable. But it was one conclusion that could have been reached by the investigation, and was possible, if not probable, so I didn’t ding it too badly for that.

Overall: a decent read, and a solid four out of five stars. I am hopeful that Zorn becomes a series character.

Thanks to Oceanview Publishing and NetGalley for the review copy.