Minotaur Books, $25.99, 322 pages, ISBN 978-1-250-01953-0
Philadelphia, one of the oldest cities in America, has been the background for innumerable dramas from the Continental Congress to the signing of the Declaration of Independence to who-knows-how-many Rocky movies. It’s the fourth largest city in the United States, a one-time capitol of the U.S. as well as a cultural and financial center. A place of arts, history and refinement, Philadelphia has a grittier side as well—making it the source of some excellent crime fiction—like this weeks MBR Number 165.
The Poor Boy’s Game, by Dennis Tafoya takes place on the down and dirty streets of the Philadelphia the tourist brochures don’t tell you about. Filled with realistic dialogue and real personalities, it has as its central character and protagonist a sharp, well-defined and sympathetic woman named Frannie Mullen. She’s a U.S. Marshal who gets her best friend shot and killed on what should have been a routine arrest, thus ending her law enforcement career. Her personal life is complicated. She’s got a biker boyfriend named Wyatt who’s a reformed outlaw that she’s trying to sort out her feelings about; a newly-sober and fragile younger sister she’s trying to protect while helping her get over their neglected, abused childhood; and then there’s her estranged father who breaks out of prison. He’s a thug and an enforcer for a corrupt Philadelphia union. Then, when the murders of ex-rivals of the union start to pile up, and Frannie is suspected of helping to engineer her father’s prison break, she’s in the fight of her life as she tries to help her sister, clear her name, figure out her relationship with her boyfriend, and, oh yeah, help put her father back in prison. This is a propulsive, action packed thrill ride that you just can’t seem to quit reading. Dennis Tofoya is another up and coming young author to keep an eye on. I’m sure you can expect more great fiction from this talented writer.