Smoke and Mirrors: Police Dreams
by Jordan P. Castro

"Rose would dream on this night, as he always dreamt: with gunfire and bloodshed and triumphant gold badges being honorably pinned on his uniform."

In 2007, a quadruple murder known as the Ash Wednesday Massacre propels rookie New York police officer Brandon Rose into the big league. Guided by his father’s legacy and personal aspirations of making detective, Rose seizes upon the opportunity to apprehend the killers. Then, a chance encounter with sixteen-year-old, street-wise Giselle is the connection Rose needs at the right moment.

Against the advice of his partner, “Chedder,” Rose relies on Giselle as he proceeds with a high stakes investigation. Both Rose and Giselle manipulate each other in the course of their precarious relationship. With his fiancé, Cecilia, miles away in San Francisco, Rose unwittingly enters into a “triangle of affection” between Cecilia and Giselle. He grows more confident while Giselle becomes vulnerable, risking her life to help him. He walks a delicate line, wrestling with ethical and moral codes, as he penetrates the treacherous criminal underworld.

One of the pleasures of reading Castro’s debut novel is his pure embrace of language and narrative diction one might not typically expect from a police thriller. It has the earmarks of a detective novel yet avoids the trappings of clichés under Castro’s careful direction. The author adds authenticity to a novel that is peopled with multi-layered characters. An added plus is the book boasts an incredible opening line. Castro breathes New York life into his story, expertly painting a vivid landscape of a pigeon-marked city that is permeated by beauty and violence. He keys into the volatile relations between the police force and society, a subtle commentary on a hot button and current national discourse. He skillfully explores moral and ethical struggles through the eyes of a young police officer just beginning a career of service and protection. By its end, one is left craving for more from this young and emerging writer.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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