Fresh Meat: Simple by Kathleen George

Simple by Kathleen George
Simple is the sixth book in the Commander Richard Christie police procedural series by Kathleen George (available August 21, 2012).

Kathleen George takes us back to the streets of Pittsburgh for a ride-along with the detectives of the Homicide Division in this sixth adventure featuring Commander Christie.

At the Connolly law offices it was politics as usual until Cassie Price, a young paralegal intern is found dead under suspicious circumstances. For golden boy and ex-senator, Michael Connolly, there’s now more to worry about than his upcoming gubernatorial race. Cassie was his mistress.

George weaves a tale of political aspirations, deceit, and cover-ups at the highest level. Her villains will stop at nothing to keep their partisan wheel spinning.

Todd Simon, Connolly’s political party planner aka handler is one of the most arrogant “people” I’ve come across in modern fiction.

Here’s his take on women:

Now he was sitting in Freddie’s kitchen and smoking. She liked him a lot. Women did. He made them laugh a lot, he opened them up sexually, he played a who’s-chasing-whom game for a few months, then he was done with them and he went away and they never minded much—they still liked him.

What he thinks of people:

He put the plastic gloves on. Not able to help himself, he looked inside the wallet again.

Driver’s license. Photos of her family. God, four beautiful girls. One going down into the dirt.

When he returned to the hole in the ground, he made sure the cell phone was off and dropped it into the grave. He took the cash out of the wallet, a mere thirty-six dollars, and stuffed it in his pocket. Lunch some day. Or give it to someone. Then he made himself drop the wallet into the hole. And he covered everything up.

Connolly couldn’t be arrested for that. Even if they cottoned on to the affair, it proved nothing, really. Still, it made him sick to think how careless Connolly was.

Screw Carola. He hates Haigh for ordering the killing, and he hates Cassie who made it necessary. And while he’s at it, he hates people in general—they always seem to be in his way. But he doesn’t hate himself.

Of course, what he thinks of himself:

He had been given an impossible task. But he did the impossible. And he did it well. Nobody else could plan as he plans, fix it as he’s fixing it. Haigh owes him, all right.

As he talks, he is more and more amazed by his own planning, more and more interested in telling it.

He’s above reproach:

When they had walked some thirty feet into a wooded area, Haigh stopped. He turned to Todd. “Okay. Show me you’re not wearing a wire.”

Todd, aghast, almost hooted at the question. “Are you—? You’re not kidding?”

“It’s a necessary precaution.”

He took off his jacket and handed it to Haigh. “Examine it. Pat me down.”

He continued to be surprised that Haigh actually examined the jacket, taking his time.

Fortunately her heroes have the same drive.     

I can relate to Commander Christie in the way he tugs at that loose thread until the tapestry unravels to reveal the real culprits. Back from vacation and not satisfied that his stand-ins got the right man, Christie utilizes his best detectives Colleen Greer, Artie Dolan, and John Potocki to sort fact from fiction behind a handyman’s confession.       

“Now, when Cal Hathaway confessed, he did not say how he did the killing, so we don’t have the details we need for a hearing. Then, of course, he retracted the confession, so we need to get those details on our own. And we need to prove those details.”

“Sometimes I get it wrong. The guy is—”

They stared at him. They were asking in silence, “You’re going to get him off?”

His motive wasn’t totally pure. If Cal Hathaway was released from custody, one way or another, that news would shake things up. Somebody would get nervous.

Ongoing sagas of supporting characters aren’t forgotten. Detective Colleen Greer comes to grips with a past that haunted her in previous books as she plans to confront her parents.

She will make them dislike her this afternoon, but it has to be done and she knows it and has always known it. She knows all the lines. They will drink to buffer the blows, but maybe they will hear her.

“Where were you when I was little and growing up—when I didn’t know up from down? Why could you never notice things? Why did you dump us with two creeps and pretend not to know what they were made of? Why were your heads always in the liquor bottle? A parent protects. That’s what a parent does.”

Another trait distinguishing a Kathleen George novel from other police procedurals is the realism of place. Del’s Italian, The ’O’s, Casbah,  Silky’s, Vincent’s Pizza, Cold Stone Creamery, Tasso’s coffee, Monterey Pub, and Tessaro’s are all real eateries in the Pittsburgh area. George backs this up by giving a shout out on her website to establishments used by characters in her books. Like George says, “Cops like to eat. So do writers.”  She doesn’t play favorites though; her bad guys get hungry and thirsty too!

Overall George delivers with real characters relying on brains over brawn to solve a case. Oh and that gut feeling Christie often gets? There’s definitely more to it than hunger pangs!

Find more coverage of new releases in our Fresh Meat series.

Cindy Kerschner is an avid mystery fan, freelance writer and professional cook. You can learn about her through her website.

Read all posts by Cindy Kerschner for Criminal Element.


  1. Deborah Lacy

    I love, love, love the title of this book. Thanks for a great post.

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