The Weeping Buddha
by Heather Dune Macadam
Real crimes are rarely just like on TV, or so I’ve heard. But sometimes they are, and it takes all the mental powers and crime fighting skills of a pair of tireless detectives to resolve this mystery and exonerate the innocent, dead or alive. Homicide detective Lockwood Brennan and his secret lover Devon Halsey of the Suffolk County Crime Scene unit hear the bad news — their mutual friends Gabe Montebello and Beka Imamura are dead on New Year’s Eve. He’s a famous sculptor, and she’s queen of the interpretive dance world. They used to hang out with Halsey in their college days in a loft in Soho, blissfully starving as artists and dealing a bit of blow on the side. Well, Halsey stayed clean, and now she’s called upon to help with this tragedy, but the forensics lab is closed for the holiday. Actual thought is now required, as circumstances point to a murder/suicide, with Beka avenging the philandering of her husband. The bodies turned up in the wealthy enclave of Sag Harbor, and other evidence lies in the lofts of New York. What does this mean for you, the reader? Well, a long commutes on the LEI looms, but the main characters ARE cops, so if the action threatens to get slow, they just pop out their sirens and flashing lights and run down the emergency lane. Don’t you wish you could, too? Of course not, traffic would be even worse if everyone pulled that trick. I’m not sure why they don’t just take the Northern State Parkway, but that’s just one of the little side mysteries in this tightly written yet comprehensive thriller. There are plenty of suspects, red herrings, and loads of colorful cop dialogue, but it’s the technical details of modern crime scene investigation that make the story what it is. Not that there aren’t some good old-fashioned shootouts in dark creepy buildings, mind you, but science is more important than bullets and fisticuffs. Welcome to the 21st century of detective novels.
As a softening influence to the technology and procedure is the amazing coincidence that nearly everyone involved with the case is a Zen Buddhist to some degree or another. While I’m sure there are plenty of people dabbling in Eastern mysticism in eastern New York, an astounding number of them appear to gather for the denouement of this drama. Still, the Zen koans and rituals play well into the story, adding a nice contrast to the hard-boiled cop talk. There are even a few mild sex scenes to keep our prurient quotient off dead zero. The only thing this book lacks is a lurid ’40s pulp cover, maybe a guy in a trenchcoat shooting at a samurai over an unconscious but scantily clad heroine. But that’s just an idea…
Akashic Books: http://www.akashicbooks.com