three-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
22-May-June-2006
user_rating: 
0

A-SpeakOfTheDevilDuring New York’s famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a gunman fires on Mother Goose and her float. Luckily, PI Fritz Malone is there to save the day—or, if not exactly save it, at least wound the gunman. But soon, seven are dead, others are wounded, and Malone is handcuffed, covered with a bag, and forced from the scene. When he lands in the police commissioner’s office, he finds himself on a case that the blackmailed mayor wants to keep quiet. More violence, threats, and a hostage situation ensue as Malone tries to locate the minds behind the "Parade of Terror."
Random House. 323 pages. $21.95. ISBN: 1400064252

Newsday 4 of 5 Stars
"Apart from its thrill-a-minute pacing and inspired plot twists, however, the greatest pleasure of Speak of the Devil is location, location, location. … Through his wry, tough-guy prose, Hawke lays claim to the city and proves that there’s always room for another resourceful shamus to set up shop in Gotham." Maureen Corrigan

Washington Post 3.5 of 5 Stars
"To call it sick—the Nightmare sends in the deputy mayor’s fingers to underscore his demands—is not to criticize the author, only to comment on the state of serial-killer fiction. … Malone and his girlfriend have too many too-cute exchanges, and even a rookie cop could predict that she’s destined to become part of the novel’s nightmare." Patrick Anderson

Philadelphia Inquirer 3 of 5 Stars
"It certainly strains credulity to very near the breaking point. But the story is quite enjoyable, which helps to overcome a lot. … The bulk of the narrative, though, is crisp and solidly entertaining." David J. Montgomery

Entertainment Weekly 2.5 of 5 Stars
"While Hawke’s New York is well rendered in both geography and class, Malone is a fairly entertaining hero who never quite manages to escape the thriller-novel stereotype of a sarcastic tough guy with a slightly jaded, but ultimately loving woman by his side. With an unnecessary subplot involving Malone’s hateful half-brother and an ultimately disappointing villain, Devil loses much of its fire in the final pages." Gilbert Cruz

Milwaukee Jrnl Sentinel 2.5 of 5 Stars
"By the time Hawke figures out what links the mayor’s office to the corrupt 95th Precinct in Brooklyn, you’ve lost track of minor characters like rogue cop Leonard Cox. Hawke’s a gifted writer with a keen sense of the city. It seems he’s bitten off a bit more than he can chew here." Carlo Wolff

Critical Summary

At once a serial-killer and political thriller as well as a portrait of a city, Speak of the Devil excited some critics while disappointing others. Richard Hawke, the pseudonym for mystery writer Tim Cockey, has penned a smart, entertaining whodunit—but how each element fit together raised some questions. Malone, a man with a troubled past and a vanished former-police-commissioner father, offers a good character study. But reviewers disagreed about how well Hawke captured the city’s pulse, from the Cloisters to Central Park to the 59th Street Bridge. Too many characters, side stories, predictable relationships, and an implausible plot also detracted from a few critics’ enjoyment. Nonetheless, the suspense never wanes and will keep readers turning the pages.