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Family Values (A Mario Balzic novel) Hardcover – February, 1997
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Good fictional cops don't fade away--they get another sequel. In K.C. Constantine's novel, Cranks and Shadows, Rocksburg P.A.'s police chief, Mario Balzic, retired. Now, in Family Values, he's bored out of his mind and itching for something to do. Before he can drive himself, his wife, his bartender and his friends completely nuts, Deputy Attorney General Warren Livingood arrives to make Balzic an offer: investigate a 17-year-old murder that just gets messier with every passing year in exchange for the title of Special Investigator, state credentials and thirty-five dollars an hour.
Soon Mario is conducting jailhouse interviews with a crew of unsavory folks, all offering up differing stories of the sordid crime at the heart of this tangle: a double homicide resulting from a drug deal gone bad. Eventually, however, the trail leads to Balzic's dopplegänger of sorts: another small-town police chief who, in his prime, was the devil's own. In Family Values the mystery is almost secondary to the fascinating array of complex characters Mr. Constantine creates--characters that will remain in the reader's mind long after the murder has been resolved.
Through a baker's dozen Mario Balzic novels, Constantine has treated readers to some of the best mystery writing done in the last 25 years. Faithful readers have grown old with the wily chief of police of Rocksburg, Pennsylvania, and mourned the economic free fall that has ravaged his small Rust Belt city. Now two books into his retirement, Mario and his wife, Ruth, are at each other's throats as they wrestle with adjusting to his retirement. Enter a Main Line aristocrat who hires Mario as a special investigator for the Attorney General's Office. His charge is to look into a 17-year-old double murder and the possibility that a spectacularly vicious and corrupt chief of police railroaded his own son with perjured testimony. The investigation leads Mario first to a series of prisons, where he interviews the principals in the case, and ultimately brings him face to face with the most sordid and appalling set of family values he has ever encountered. With the wonderfully human but world-weary Mario at his most appealing, this makes an outstanding addition to one of the best mystery series ever published. Thomas Gaughan
Top customer reviews
Seventeen years ago, a drug deal went bad and two pushers were killed. The man convicted of the crime, Lester Walin, insists that he is innocent and has proof to back his claim. It seems he has a photograph of him being in bed with his step-mother during the time the crime allegedly occurred. Walin clearly places his conviction at the hands of his father, a stroke victim former police officer. Other prisoners make the same loud claim. As Balzic investigates he realizes that there may be some truth to what Lester and others are claiming.
One of the basic laws of the universe is that any Mario Balzic tale is worth reading. The latest one, FAMILY VALUES, continues in that time honored tradition of being a great novel. In his baker dozenth Balzic tale, K.C. Constantine demonstrates that he is constantly one of the best writers today, showing insights into his characters that make his novels appeal to psychodrama lovers and mystery fans.