"The Con Man's Daughter"
(reviewed by Chuck Barksdale JAN 11, 2004)
"The sins of Eddie Dunne's past returned on a cold morning in April, more than four years after he'd turned his life around. The fifty-four-year-old ex-boxer and former cop was walking his granddaughter to school when he spotted a black BMW moving slowing behind them."
Eddie quickly tracks down the BMW only to have it take off away from him. When he finds it again, he sees the car leaving his house with his daughter Kate captured in the backseat screaming his name. Eddie's childhood friend, Detective "Babsie" Panko helps him to try to find his daughter and the reason why she was kidnapped. Eddie also gets help from Detective Matty Boland who brings in the FBI for assistance, some of which is not always welcome. While Babsie's help is mostly altruistic, Boland is looking to further his career.
Eddie assumes that his daughter's capture is related to his past, more likely his ten years helping the Russian mob then his earlier career as a NYPD policeman. Sometimes with the help of the NYPD and FBI and sometimes on his own, Dunne looks for clues to find his daughter. He first starts with his former Russian mob employer, Anatoly Lukin, now old and sick, to see if he can help. Dunne believes the new Russian mob leader, Yuri Borodenko is behind the kidnapping although he's not sure why. Lukin is not able to help and he is soon found murdered. Dunne tracks down others in the Russian mob to gather clues and to try to get to Borodenko.
Dunne is frustrated even more by the lack of contact or demands of the kidnappers. He does get some clues when the head of his former NYPD partner, Paulie "the Priest" Caruso ends up on his front steps. Caruso and Dunne had not remained in contact since they each left the NYPD fourteen years earlier ; Caruso had been living in Italy. Dunne's past relationship with Caruso while they were both with the NYPD is evaluated throughout the remaining portion of the book to provide possible clues into finding Dunne's daughter Kate.
The author is slow to provide some details about Dunne's life that are critical to the story despite telling the story in the third person mostly from Dunne's perspective. This did not really bother me, but I prefer a book where the character is finding out clues slowly and not keeping critical clues to himself.
Ed Dee definitely writes realistic and believable characters and places. Eddie Dunne is a flawed, yet human and interesting character in Dee's hands. Dee provides convincing characterizations, with realistic dialogue but he also writes vivid prose as in this excerpt:
"After leaving Lukin, Eddie Dunne drove the five minutes to Brighton Beach Avenue. The street was a carbon copy of the Moscow of his imagination. The darkness under the el gave the shopping district a drab, dreary quality. All the signs were written in the Cyrillic alphabet. Women in heavy coats prowled the outdoor markets, speaking in Russian and slinging net shopping bags. Shoving and jostling, these women hunted for each evening's meal as if it were all-out war. Old habits ruled the Brooklyn sidewalks. Hip-to-hip, they fought for position around the fruit and vegetable stands, forcing passersby into the street."
For me, these descriptive scenes were often over done and actually distracted from the story. This is the same problem that ultimately led me to stop reading James Lee Burke. I enjoy the characterizations, but I prefer more action and I really don't need to live the lives of the characters.The Con Man's Daughter is the first standalone for Ed Dee after four books about New York Detectives Anthony Ryan and Joe Gregory. This is a solid book and definitely exciting and enjoyable in many parts. Although I'll read more books by Dee, I don't have a great desire to find the other 4 books.
- Amazon readers rating: from 14 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from The Con Man's Daughter at MostlyFiction.com
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- The Con Man's Daughter (November 2003)
Ryan & Gregory Mysteries:
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About the Author:
Ed Dee was born in Yonkers, NY in 1940 and grew up in the city's west side projects. After graduating from Sacred Heart H. S. he spent two years in the U.S. Army. In 1962, after several Teamster Union trucking jobs, he joined the NYPD. He spent nine years in uniform walking the streets of the South Bronx, while earning a BA at Fordham University. During the last eleven years he supervised detectives in the Organized Crime Control Bureau. Ed retired from the NYPD as a lieutenant lugging a suitcase full of stories he had to write. He left Fordham Law School to obtain a MFA in Creative Writing at Arizona State University. His master's thesis became his first novel and a New York Times 1994 Notable Book of the Year.
Although the horror and hilarity of his NYPD career are evident in his work, Ed focuses on the cops themselves; how the depressing grind of an impossible job infects and changes them, then spills over onto those they love.
Ed has two daughters and four grandchildren. He lives in Delaware with his wife, Nancy.