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Review: A Killer in the Wind, by Andrew Klavan 2013

There are some twists and turns in this book. Starts off with police inspector Dan Champion doing his best to present himself to the world as a likeable hotshot cop, and doing it really well.
He uses his veteran cop brain to figure out where a fugitive killer is hiding out and takes a young novice cop along to help apprehend the bad guy. He has a lot of fun teasing the young cop and they get the killer and everything looks like we’re in for a light-hearted crime/mystery novel.
But then we flash back to the story of how Champion has wound up working in a small town, after a career with the NYPD. Champion is not an easy-going crim-fighter who spends most of his time handling small town crime. He’s a man who was eased out of his big city job after becoming obsessed with the Fat Woman and her child prostitution operation.
This episode in his life was marked by an obsession so severe that very strong drugs were his only option for handling the stress. The drugs eventually pushed him so far over the edge that when it came time to make a move on one of the Fat Woman’s cohorts, Champion went far beyond standard police protocol and was quietly asked to leave the department.
Much of the novel concerns itself with filling in the back story, especially Champion’s relationship with the mysterious Samantha, a beautiful woman who sometimes appears as a fantasy and who sometimes appears in real life flesh and blood. Champion has trouble figuring out which one she is and usually guesses wrong.
But it is Bethany, his sort of girlfriend, who gives him the insight that starts Champion on the journey into his past that eventually allows him to figure out just who the Fat Woman is and how his life is tied to hers.
There are also stone killers sent by the Fat Woman with whom Champion must deal. He manages, but only just barely. And there are the dreams of smoke and fire and dead children.
Not an easy book, but a good one.
(A former newspaper reporter, Herb Johnson lives with his wife of 56 years in a quiet prairie town. Every day except Sunday he plays old jazz tunes on the clarinet. He doesn’t have a Web site.)