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I am old enough to remember a day when the best of genre fiction was published in paperback, readily available at the corner drugstore or the supermarket. I’m beginning to see evidence of a return to those days, and part of Exhibit “A” would be SHAKEDOWN by Joel Goldman.

Goldman takes a hiatus from his series featuring Kansas City attorney Lou Mason, keeping the geographical locale the same while giving a guided tour of its back streets (where the buses don’t run). He sucks you in right at the beginning with his streetwise account of Marcellus Pearson, a drug-dealing gang leader who gives money to the mother of one of his fallen soldiers for her son’s funeral and some extras. However, none of the folks you meet in the first few pages of SHAKEDOWN are going to be around long, as they are done in by Latrell Kelly, a neighbor of Marcellus’s whose blasÐ"© appearance belies a cunning intelligence and, as we quickly learn, a sociopathic personality.

The sudden, violent deaths of Marcellus and his associates attract the attention of FBI Special Agent Jack Davis, who questions the timing of the murders. Jack has been leading a team that has had Marcellus and his operation under surveillance and wonders if perhaps there was a law enforcement leak that led to the murders. But Jack has problems of his own. He is in the midst of a divorce and is experiencing violent trembling episodes that leave him momentarily incapacitated. Worst of all, his daughter Wendy is romantically involved with a member of his team. Ultimately, Jack is involuntarily placed on medical leave until the etiology and severity of his condition can be determined.

Jack begins his own clandestine, unapproved investigation into the murder of Marcellus and his crew. He is aided by Kate Scranton, an expert in the decoding of facial expressions and, incidentally, a budding romantic interest



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