Penzler Pick, October 2001: Conrad Voort, the protagonist of Ethan Black's three novels set in New York, is of Dutch extraction. The men of the Voort family have been policemen since the Dutch held sway in New York City, and Conrad is, by modern standards, an extremely rich cop for someone who is not on the take. This is just a little background to the best entry yet in this excellent series.|
Voort is asked by a friend to meet him at the White Horse Tavern in Greenwich Village. The friend, Meechum Keefe, has something on his mind, but he is reluctant to tell Voort what it is without making it clear that Voort must tread very carefully. Keefe has a list of names on a napkin and explains to Voort that the people on this list are dying, one by one, but there seems to be no connection among them. Keefe is obviously nervous about who is watching them, and Voort follows and confronts a man who seems to be observing them. When he returns to the tavern, Keefe is gone. And Voort never sees him again.
What Voort discovers is that all but one of the people on the list are dead, but that they died in accidents. No foul play is suspected at all. Nor does there seem to be any connection on any front. Politically, they run the gamut from right wing to liberal to no interest in politics. The only thing Voort can do to honor Keefe's plea for help is to make contact with the one person on the list still alive, Dr. Jill Towne, a specialist in rare diseases who practices out of her office on Fifth Avenue. She will have nothing to do with Voort, even after he explains that she might be in danger, until she almost has an accident.
From then on Voort finds himself pulled into one of the strangest cases of his career. He has nothing to go on, but tiny clue by tiny clue, a picture starts to emerge that looks like one of the largest and most far-reaching conspiracies possible. Voort's investigation takes him to West Point and to soldiers who served in Vietnam. The pacing here is terrific and it is impossible for readers to guess what is going on even though they meet the bad guys and become privy to their thoughts and actions. This is a very well constructed plot from the pseudonymous Black and one of the best page-turners of the year.
Source: Otto Penzler, Amazon.com.