It’s a Mystery: The Vig, by John Lescroart

The VigEx-cons and loan sharks

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The ex-cop and DA turned bartender, following the death of his infant son, Dismas Hardy is the protagonist in this second episode in the series that bears his name. Diz has been coasting for a good ten years now, when a former colleague, Rusty Ingraham, shows up at the bar, to warn Diz that a newly paroled ex-con is gunning for him. Diz is dismayed and not a little frightened, and the tension escalates when Rusty, apparently a murder victim, disappears. Hardy takes a break from tending bar, hoping to convince his pal, Detective Glitsky, to pin the murder on the ex-con, hoping to escape Rusty’s fate.

Nothing is ever clear cut in the world of crime novels, as Diz soon discovers for himself. Along the way, he’s shocked to find himself falling in love with a young woman, recently widowed, whom he knew when she was growing up. Diz was on the verge of reconnecting with his ex-wife, but now he questions the nature of that relationship. In the meantime, Glitsky suffers some angst of his own over the deterioration of the justice system in San Francisco, questioning the relevance and value of his life’s work. There are plenty of zigs and zags in this story, and the outcome develops gradually enough to permit the reader to figure out what’s happening just in time.

This is a fun series, with appealing characters who are savvy but human enough to screw up once in a while. In The Vig (slang for money extorted by loan sharks), the payback has just begun. And your attention will be fully engaged, every step of the way.

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