Today I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Canadian crime fiction writer Desmond P. Ryan’s second novel Death Before Coffee. Picking up thirteen years after the death of his partner Sal, Mike O’Shea is back at it chasing down leads and raising hell in Toronto. Just as gritty and just as real as 10-33 Assist PC, this is an outstanding sequel and an intensely gripping read.
Title: Death Before Coffee
Author: Desmond P. Ryan
Publisher: Copper Press Publishing
Publication Date: February 8, 2019
Genre: Fiction, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
Themes: Friendship, Relationships, Human Trafficking, Crime
My Rating: 4.5/ 5
By 2:27 on a Thursday afternoon, the one-legged man from Room 8 at 147 Loxitor Avenue has been beaten to death with a lead pipe. Twenty-eight minutes later, Detective Mike O’Shea is testifying in a stuffy courtroom, unaware that, within an hour, he will be standing in an alleyway littered with beer cans and condoms while his new partner—the man who saved his life thirteen years ago—flicks bugs off of a battered corpse with a ballpoint pen. When a rogue undercover copper prematurely hauls in the prime suspect, Mike blows a fuse, resulting in an unlikely rapport developing between him and the lead homicide detective sergeant, a woman known for her stilettos and razor sharp investigative skills. At the end of his seventy-two-hour shift, three men are dead and Mike O’Shea is floating in and out of consciousness in an emergency room hallway, two women by his side. Death Before Coffee, the second book in the Mike O’Shea Crime Fiction Series, weaves a homicide investigation through the life of an inner-city police detective intent on balancing his responsibilities as a son, brother, and newly single father with his sworn oath of duty. When faced with death, Mike is forced to make decisions that stir up old memories, compelling him to confront his demons while fighting the good fight.
I have a confession.
Okay, maybe not the kind that needs to be recorded and documented but I feel it’s only fair to get it out in the open – I am typing this review rather heavily medicated for what seems to be the never-ending-February-head-cold and am worried that this may not be my best piece of writing. Please be kind when it comes to any spelling and grammar mistakes, as I am not catching things the way I normally do!
But on to the book which is fabulous, Canadian, and intensely action packed.
All of the things that I loved in Ryan’s first novel lived on in the second, and it was both refreshing and incredibly sad to see that Mike hadn’t walked away from Sal’s murder scott free. Too often I read crime fiction and series where the lead investigator witnesses tragedy after tragedy and seems to ruck on mentally unscathed – but that is not the case with Michael O’Shea. He’s broken, irreparably damaged, and incredibly real. He has flashbacks, suffers from PTSD, generally denies the reality that he needs some professional help, and yet manages to be stubborn and callous in the most endearing way possible.
I must admit though, I did not expect traffic man Ron Roberts to wind up as Mike’s partner, and loved how harshly their personalities clashed with one another. They were automatic chemistry, tension, and humour all rolled into one. And yet, I can see these two odd ducks – the living legend and the rules & regs man – forming a bond and partnership that will carry them through some serious cases and personal hard times. Of course, it makes sense that those involved in Sal’s open case would eventually gravitate back towards one another, and I simply can’t wait to see where this cold case goes given the whoppers that were dropped in the final pages. I mean – Oh. My. Giddy. Goodness. Who doesn’t love a little dirty-cop drama? And now we have to sit patiently for the next instalment to be released!
Impatience aside, this review would not be complete without some serious attention to Detective Sergeant Amanda Black. I am totally in love with this boss lady. Everyone might call her a bitch but she is seriously bad-ass! Driven, successful, damn good at her job and a family lady to boot, she sets the bar pretty high when it comes life goals. I absolutely adored her laser-vision attention to detail, ability to assess and manage a team, and especially her lady-balls when it came to dealing with condescension, insubordination, and the persistent gender gap in her given profession. She’s the perfect balance to Mike’s get ’em cowboy ways and Ron’s by the book approach, injecting a little femininity and a healthy dose of sarcasm into some seriously heavy police work. We need more ladies like her in fiction AND the real world. Period.
And let’s to forget the structure of the book itself. I loved how it was broken up into tightly packed segments delineated by date and time. It gave the feeling of reading through a police report while simultaneously drawing you into the action. It created this sense of everything moving both incredibly fast and unbearably slow at the same time, much the same way I imagine first 48 hours following a major crime feels to the investigating team. It allowed for intense focus on key moments as well as breaks in time to advance the plot while maintaining a seamless and easy to read presentation.
The case was tantalizing, and presented plenty of obstacles to ramp up the drama and keep the pages turning. I felt for the officers running the gauntlet with the media vultures, and found myself steaming with rage when officers went out of their way to disobey, or worse, looked like they might be dirty and on the take. I appreciated the power dynamics, the distinctly different units that have to converge to work on a case, and the need to balance safety with legitimacy when approaching any serious situation. The result was incredibly realistic and believable.
Would I recommend this book? In a heart beat! And I’m not just saying that because I’m a huge advocate for Canadian content, I’m saying it because this baby packs a serious punch and is shaping up to be an awesome series. Death Before Coffee is gritty, raw, and heartbreakingly real. It hits close to home, and makes you consider some pretty serious issues in an unobtrusive way. Read it my fellow crime lovers, you won’t be disappointed.
About The Author
For almost thirty years, Desmond P. Ryan began every day of his working life with either a victim waiting in a hospital emergency room, or a call to a street corner or a blood-soaked room where someone had been left for dead. Murder, assaults on a level that defied humanity, sexual violations intended to demean, shame, and haunt the individuals who were no more than objects to the offenders: all in a day’s work.
It was exhilarating, exhausting, and often heartbreaking.
As a Detective with the Toronto Police Service, Desmond P. Ryan wrote thousands of reports detailing the people, places, and events that led up to the moment he came along. He investigated the crimes and wrote synopses for guilty pleas detailing the circumstances that brought the accused individuals before the Courts. He also wrote a number of files to have individuals deemed either Not Criminally Responsible due to mental incapacity, or Dangerous Offenders to be held in custody indefinitely.
Now, as a retired investigator with three decades of research opportunities under his belt, Desmond P. Ryan writes crime fiction.
Real Detective. Real Crime. Fiction.
Many thanks to Shell Baker at Baker’s Blog Tours and Promos for inviting me to join in this tour and for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.