Untold Damage by Robert K. Lewis is a dark mystery debut featuring a drug-addicted former cop (available April 8, 2013).
Mark Mallen is a former undercover cop for the San Francisco Police Department. Now he’s a heroin junkie, estranged from his wife and nine-year-old daughter. He spends his days shooting up, scoring, and making kites for the daughter he never sees.
He woke up with a needle in his arm.
Waking up with the pin still in him was something new. First time, actually. Made him think of how Vodka was the last drink a chronic drunk can take. Because their stomach’s given out from all the abuse heaped on it. Vodka was the last stop before a coffin. The last line in the sand, crossed.
When Oberon Kane, a cop that Mark had worked with in the past, shows up at his place, Mark is instantly ashamed of his appearance and living conditions.
Oberon opened the notebook. It was then he caught a look at the crook of Mallen’s right arm. His gaze then traveled up to Mallen’s face. Like he was seeing him for the first time. Mallen put his left hand over the track marks, trying to hide them, only drawing more attention to them. Oberon glanced around the room again, like it all of a sudden made sense.
Of course, Kane comes bearing bad news. His former friend, a man he’d gone to the Academy with, Eric Russ, has been shot and killed, and he had Mark’s address in his pocket. Mark desperately wants to get to the bottom of what happened to his friend, but his addiction is sure to hold him back. When he attempts to dig a little deeper, he gets arrested, and even if they can only hold him for a day, he’s near panic.
His mind raced. Panic was firmly in place now. The Need was already awake, crying for its needle. He was going away for at least a day. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing, again whispered the quiet voice inside. He found himself not disagreeing with that voice as much as he thought he would. Maybe this was it. Maybe this was the real bottom of the well. Had to admit, his crash-out appeared pretty fucking complete.
When Kane tells him what a great cop he used to be, back in the day, Mark finds his mind wandering back to better days.
Yeah, he’d been good all right. Lots of times better than good. And then he suddenly realized he wanted to be good again. At something. Anything. But he never would be, not if he stayed hooked.
The addiction was a huge chasm, and he needed to get over it to the other side. Could he finally find a way to jump that gulf?
With the help of a new friend, Mark starts down the road to recovery, and his cop instincts are returning, along with sobriety. It’s not going to be smooth sailing, though. There are a few folks from his undercover days that know who he is, and more importantly, what he was, and they’re out for blood. Meanwhile, it turns out that his friend Eric had some secrets of his own, and he won’t be the only one to die.
While Untold Damage is indeed a crime thriller, at its core is the story of a man desperately trying to get clean and regain not only his dignity, but his sense of place in the world. The author effectively paints a portrait of a man in crisis, who must use every bit of strength he has to dig himself out of the hole that he’s been in for the last four years. Untold Damage is an interesting crime debut, but it’s the story of Mark’s redemption that reeled me in.
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