As in Lehane's much-extolled previous novel, Beware the Solitary Drinker, there's plenty of elbow-bending action and seedy ambience to relish in these pages, as McNulty hobbles, cabs, and house-breaks his way across late-1980s Manhattan. Lending him assistance (more or less) are his cynical father, a retired investigative reporter and unflagging Communist ever wary of his son consorting with corporate kings, and "Big John" Wolinski, a kind and trusted "bro" from McNulty's idealized days "working the stick" in Atlantic City, who's now a hospitality chain honcho. What nags at our hero is that Adams's murder reminds him of the deaths, 15 years before, of two other members of their Atlantic City circle. Could all these tragedies be related, perhaps by Greg Phillips, a fellow bar dog who hasn't been seen since Adams's corpse was found? Or maybe by Big John's reportedly mob-connected father, who's reappeared in town under an assumed name? Before he can answer such questions, the decent but naïve McNulty will be charged with burglary and shot in the leg by a drive-by Latino gunman, fall in love not just once but three times (including with a former flame from the Jersey Shore), expose a pal's double life, betray his teenage son's misplaced faith in Brian's bravery, and realize only too late how mistakes from the past can hurt people in the present.
Its author's own experience behind the plank that lends the McNulty series resonance, and the characters here--with the exception of a fetching female physician--are satisfyingly sculpted and frequently comic. While there are discrepancies in What Goes Around's time line, the greater problem is the complexity of Lehane's quirky tale, and its repetition of plot devices, both of which slow the novel's pace. Still, as a dilettante detective, Brian McNulty boasts the spirited potential of a long-cellared cabernet. Let's see what adventures he can uncork next. --J. Kingston Pierce
From Publishers Weekly
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