A Hollywood studio exec comes home to find the dead body of a stranger in his ocean-view condo in this upscale Los Angeles suburb. Santa Monica Police Department’s Detective Dave Mason pulls his warring team together to link the body to a string of high-tech burglaries which has Santa Monica on edge. The stakes rise as the investigation leads Mason away from Santa Monica to Hollywood to the Russian community to be warned off by the FBI and Homeland Security. A bungled take down results in two murders of key informants. Fingers are pointed. Mason is outranked and the Department blamed.
On the way to a resolution that restores the Department’s and Mason’s reputation, the burglar and a Chechen housewife find true love. While Mason has brought an international whodunit to an end, he finds his relationship with his activist girlfriend teetering on the edge.
Dave Mason is a detective in the Santa Monica Police Department and he is a hockey fan. His knees and relationship are failing and there are some people on his team that have some serious problems. His superiors also are willing to throw him over the side at any time when it is convenient or necessary for them to do so.
A man is murdered in a condo not his own and it had a security system and there are few clues. Dave and his team investigate and they are led down several paths that involve an extremely ruthless gang of Chechen gangsters, a crooked condo manager, drug dealing, nearly every crime known is committed in the otherwise idyllic city of Santa Monica.
There are several layers of criminal opposition and they are all very good at what they do. Fortunately, Dave and his team are also very good, despite their internal conflicts and colliding ambitions, they are able to function together.
The search for clues and information is sometimes exciting, yet often dull as it involves plowing through mountains of data and sifting through contradictory information that is gleaned from street sources and suspects. Dave is portrayed as generally an ordinary guy; he wants a private life but finds that he feeds off the thrill and intensity of being a cop on the street chasing killers.
The fact that Dave’s team has so many internal conflicts helps to make the story more plausible, his department’s fights with other departments, such as the FBI and Homeland Security make you wonder how true the story is on that point, yet make it more believable. There is something artificial about stories that have the federal agents acting in tandem with the local law enforcement.
This is the second book in a series that features Dave Mason by Preston and she has done a good job in creating a character that is a good cop battling the crush of paperwork, surly superiors and teammates that often drip ambition off of every word.
A fun read in bringing the worries of the headlines of today into the who-done-it genre of Crime-Noir.
Set in an urban world that may be all but alien to many of us, Mar does an earthy tactile job of carving out characters and letting them play one of another in her second installment in the Detective Dave Mason series.
I had enough fun reading her tale of crime in Santa Monica that the books pages roared past me as I kept up the action.
You’ll enjoy looking in on this world of international crime.
Best of Chicklit – October 9, 2o12 http://bestchicklit.com/2012/10/09/rip-off-mar-preston/
What we say – review by Eleanor Whalley:
Rip Off is a ripping good yarn if I ever read one! The small novel is packed to the brim full of action, death and deceit – plus high-tech burglaries to boot! It was an excellent read The finished resulted works wonderfully with snappy dialogue and a incredibly fast pace! The dialogue is, in fact, the book’s greatest strength – the discussions between Mason and his fellow cops are very funny and convinces the reader from the outset of the camaraderie of the group, but also of the cracks that are forming.
Rip Off is also interesting because the politics have shifted drastically from the days of Raymond Chandler was writing. But Preston knows the rise of radical politics in Santa Monica upside down and plays with it wonderfully through out. This is a great book to read – I highly recommend it although don’t eat lunch before you start reading!