Andrew Case is a successful playwright who understands how to craft a story and develop characters. His debut novel, The Big Fear, a crime drama involving New York City police officers, presents an intriguing mystery that does its best to keep readers off balance and guessing as the story unfolds. However, I personally felt Case was trying to do too much, therefore inadvertently making the first half of the book hard to follow.
The New York City shown in The Big Fear is dark and dirty, literally. Leonard Mitchell is the protagonist, and serves on the city’s Department to Investigate Misconduct and Corruption (think of them as the people who police the police officers). He’s given the job when his boss conveniently steps down before having to investigate an incident involving a Detective named Ralph Mulino.
One night while Mulino was investigating a suspicious boat that had been reported, he found two men–one of them dead. Mulino ends up shooting and killing the second man, only to find out that he too was a police officer. As Leonard investigates what actually happened during the shooting, he’s pursued by people who want the truth to remain a secret–and who are willing to do whatever it takes to keep it that way.
The story has a gritty feel, and Case obviously knows how things work form a law enforcement standpoint. All of that was spot on, but there are some shortcomings that are hard to ignore, especially early on.
While the book itself is not bad, there are some pretty cheesey and cliche moments throughout it. In that sense it didn’t feel very original, and I have to admit that I saw the ending coming well before the author revealed it. The story takes too long to develop, and some readers will give up on it before Case hits his stride, which finally happens slightly more than half way through.
If you do hang around and make it past the first half of the book, Case shows real potential in the second half, which is considerably better than the first. Some of the plot is incredibly relevant, considering all the news stories we’ve seen lately about police brutality and how the local community reacts to such events. That’s a huge part of this book, as everyone wants answers for Mulino’s actions.
While I found the book average, I do think the author has the ability to improve in his second attempt. There’s something to build on here, and I did like Leonard Mitchell as a character the more I got to know him. If you’re a fan police dramas such as like The Shield or Law and Order, then Andrew Case’s The Big Fear might be right up your ally.
I see promise from the author, and nobody’s first book is great (expect for maybe Vince Flynn). But the story in clunky early on, and has a hard time recovering after that. I wanted to like it, but found myself having to push through down areas far too much for a book that’s shy of three-hundred pages.
Author: Andrew Case
Pages: 272 (Paperback)
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Release Date: April 1, 2016 (Order now!)