Mr. Straka's first book in the Frank Pavlicek series offers the reader a variety of adventures. Pavlicek, a former NYC detective, and his former partner(s) resettle with their families in small-town Virginia after being railroaded off the force for their part in a teen's death resulting from a cop shooting. After his marriage fails in the new setting, Pavlicek moves to Charlottesville where he sets up his PI shop, and develops a taste for falconry. Years later when his hunting bird discovers a dead body and Pavlicek spots evidence that apparently connects the deceased black (drug dealing?) teen with his daughter, Pavlicek is thrust back into family life with all the joys of dealing with his alcoholic former wife and rebellious teenage daughter. As evidence mounts against his daughter, Pavlicek's determination increases. Can Pavlicek and his hawk rise to the occasion?
The reader will recognize the genre's familiar one-two punch of a PI and his sidekick (Spenser and Hawk, Elvis Cole and Joe Pike, etc.) with Frank and Jake in this book. The dialogue is not as smart-aleck as some, but the traditional tension and repartee between PIs and state and local police is there. Other slices of life Straka tackle include: a young female black district attorney in a small southern town, turf-battling between the local police department, attorneys, and the state trooper, the intrusion of organized crime and gangs into a small, sleepy southern town, the question of the conversion of a drug dealer to Christianity, much local Central Virginia color, and some of the finer shades of difference between falconry with red-tailed hawks and goshawks. A WITNESS ABOVE raises the intelligence level of a good murder mystery a notch.
I really liked this book. It is interesting and has a surprise ending that ties together all the pieces.