There is no stronger argument for the death penalty than Nicholas Balagula, the bloodthirsty West Coast crime boss who has been charged with sixty-three counts of homicide, many of them children. And now reclusive rogue journalist Frank Corso -- the only non-participant invited to observe the closed court proceedings -- stands uncomfortably in the center of the most crazed media circus to hit Seattle in years . . . until a personal tragedy diverts his attention. When photojournalist Meg Dougherty -- once Corso's lover and still his dearest friend -- comes face-to-face with a pair of cold-blooded executioners and ends up clinging weakly to life in the I.C.U., the angry lone-wolf reporter vows to make all the guilty parties pay, by his own hand if necessary.
After six books about Leo Waterman, a Seattle PI with an eccentric fondness for drunks and deadbeats, Ford created in Fury (2001) a very different kind of antihero Frank Corso, an ace investigative journalist fired by the New York Times for fabricating a story. Fury was well received, but Corso himself often seemed a work in progress. This second time out, Corso lives, breathes and walks on his own solid legs through the Seattle streets Ford knows so well. He's making big bucks writing true crime books, living on board his boat berthed on Lake Union with a terrific view of the skyline (the description of Bill Gates's Mercer Island mega-mansion as seen from the water is dead on: "At first it looked like a park. Then maybe a trendy waterfront shopping center. Very Northwest. Lots of environmentally conscious exposed rock and wood"). Corso is the only journalist allowed to cover the federal trial of a nasty Russian hoodlum accused of causing the collapse of a Los Angeles hospital; his Fury lady friend photographer Meg Dougherty, whose body was covered in hideous tattoos by a berserk former lover winds up in the hospital after stumbling on two of the Russian's hired killers. Those killers, a pair of convincingly scary Cubans; a touchingly fallible female federal prosecutor with a slight drinking problem; a Cambodian apartment manager; a young medical student trying to understand his missing father are all made so real so quickly that you might miss the considerable artistry involved. Welcome back, Mr. Corso and Mr. Ford. (July 8) Forecast: A plug from Dennis Lehane, national print advertising and a six-city author tour should help lift this one onto genre bestseller lists. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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June 24, 2003
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Excerpt from Black River by G. M. Ford
Wednesday, July 26
Like nearly everyone born in the tin shacks that line the banks of the Rio Cauto, Gerardo Limon was short, dark, and bandy-legged. A textbook cholo, Limon was less than a generation removed from the jungle and thus denied even the pretense of having measurable quantities of European blood, a deprivation of the soul which, for all his adult life, had burned in his chest like a candle. That his partner, Ramon Javier, was tall, elegant, and obviously of Spanish descent merely added fuel to the flame.
Gerardo shouldered his way into the orange coveralls and then buckled the leather tool belt about his waist. A sticky valve in the truck's engine ticked in the near darkness. Twenty yards away, Ramon spaced a trio of orange traffic cones across the mouth of the driveway leading to the back of the Briarwood Garden Apartments.
The kill zone was perfect. The driveway had two nearly blind turns. This end of the building had no windows. To the north, half a mile of marsh separated the apartments from the Speedy Auto Parts outlet up the road.
"You wanna pitch or catch?" Gerardo asked.
"Who was up last?" Ramon wanted to know.
"We turned two, remember?"
Last time out, they'd encountered an unexpected visitor and had to play an impromptu doubleheader. Ramon's thin lips twisted into a smile as he recalled the last time they'd worn these uniforms. As he settled the tool belt on his hips, he wondered how many times they'd run their "utility repairmen" number. Certainly dozens. He'd lost count years ago.