This is my first taste of Hurwitz’s character Tim Rackley, a U.S. Marshall with a past charged with hunting down an outlaw biker gang with a deadly secret agenda. Right at the beginning of the novel, Rackley is given a personal motive to smash the gang, when several of its members ambush and shoot Los Angeles police deputy Andrea Rackley, our hero’s 8-month-pregnant wife, and leave her in a coma. The gang, known as the Smiling Sinners, murder and terrorize with impunity, wiping out rival gangs and picking off innocents without a second thought as they enact a carefully-devised plan with national ramifications.
For some reason, the FBI has planted an agent on Rackley’s team of detectives who appears to be stonewalling the team, and it is not until well into the book that we finally learn why, adding another and darker level of tension to the story. Rackley is also up against a celebrity lady lawyer who works for the Sinners and manages to stymie the detectives at every turn. Fortunately, our hero has a cluster of unorthodox friends who he is able to call on when the team hits a wall, and slowly but surely he is able to pick off bad guys—leaving the gang’s psychotic knifeman Den Laurey still on the loose.
Hurwitz makes sure that his novels are realistic, and his knowledge of motorcyles, weapons, drug smuggling, undercover police operations, even embalming techniques, is carefully researched and expertly—if luridly–displayed. He does not stint on blood and gore and his writing is not for the squeamish. Nonetheless, his multi-layered plot boils with tension, and the excitement will keep you up all night, or two or three, before you turn that last page.