There’s a reason that Hell's Kitchen Homicide reads like a screenplay of an episode of Law & Order: author Charles Kipps has written episodes for that hit TV series, along with others, and is widely respected in the industry for his work. Kipps knows how to keep a story moving along with good pacing, interesting characters and plot twists. You can almost hear Law & Order’s iconic ‘bu-bump’ at the end of each chapter.
Hell's Kitchen Homicide is not a TV show, however. It is a well-crafted novel that introduces NYPD detective Conor Bard. Bard, like many other heroes in the police procedural genre, has his issues, but he is also very real, very likable. Sure he drinks. Sure he has relationship disasters. Sure he dreams of doing something else for a living at times. He’s a fairly typical guy who believes strongly in working the ‘system’ in the quest for justice. Being realistic, that means that ‘the lesser of two evils’ is often good enough.
The career that Conor Bard wishes he had is that of a musician. One night, after one of his gigs is interrupted, he is assigned a murder investigation. After some preliminary digging, it looks and smells like a Mafia hit. Think Italians? Think again! There’s another ethnic group in Manhattan with their own code of honor. The fact that Bard starts to fall for a fine lady in that group seriously compromises the investigation. Too bad he has no idea. Love is blind. In this case, it is deaf and dumb, too.
Hell's Kitchen Homicide doesn’t break the mold of the genre, but it does fill the mold with delightful dialog, plot, and cast of characters.
Pros: Fast-moving pace, likable characters, enough surprises to keep you glued.
Cons: Some supporting characters are a bit flat or clichéd.
Bottom Line: Hell's Kitchen Homicide is the literary equivalent of a Hershey’s chocolate bar - a great temporary pleasure. Go on, take a bite!