Put your disbelief in the back, Jack, and get ready for one helluva ride. Cuts Through Bone is one hardboiled rip, heavy on Noo Yawk color, slam-bang action, and a breezy, slang-filled style that isn’t afraid to strut its stuff.
Clayton Guthrie is a well-respected, middle-aged Manhattan private investigator with an overdeveloped gift of gab and a network of informants and sources that includes everyone from the CIA to a band of wandering homeless people. But what really kicks this gritty, zippy debut novel into overdrive is Guthrie’s straight-outta-high school apprentice, Rachel Vasquez, a precocious chica from the Lower East Side who comes off as the long-lost offspring of Nancy Drew and Race Williams. It’s all rather preposterous, of course, and the author’s attempts to add too much grit, depth, and (so help me) relevance bog down the pulpy drive at times, but when Guthrie and Vasquez hit the streets, guns blazing, banging heads with Russian gangsters or chasing crazed winos through abandoned subway tunnels far below the surface, who cares?
The plot—the detectives are hired by the defense team on behalf of their client, Greg Olsen, a recently returned Special Ops soldier accused of murdering his rich, young girlfriend and a succession of other young women—isn’t quite as strong as it could be, but it’s mostly just an excuse to put the dynamic duo through their paces, anyway. And what paces. Clayton’s an honorable man, a smooth operator with more than a few tricks up his sleeves, while the fiery Rachel, who’s taken to wearing twin pistols, is definitely nobody to trifle with. No wonder her overprotective Puerto Rican family, with whom she still lives, is worried sick. And what exactly are Guthrie’s intentions toward their daughter, anyway?
Like I said, suspension of disbelief may be the ticket here, but given how much fun this was to read, I’m hoping Mr. and Mrs. Vasquez have plenty more sleepless nights in the years to come.