House of Cards: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Theodore J. Cohen
Outskirts Press (2011)
ISBN 9781432779801
Reviewed by Marty Shaw for Reader Views (10/11)

A seemingly random murder on Halloween leads Detective Louis Martelli into an elaborate conspiracy that threatens more than just the financial security of the world, as the FBI tries to keep him from learning the truth.

“House of Cards: Dead Men Tell No Tales” has a plot that was ripped from the headlines and then blended together with the colorful characters that were first introduced in “Death by Wall Street: Rampage of the Bulls.” Martelli and his IT assistant, Missy Dugan, are once again using their combined expertise to dig through the lies and uncover the bad guy.

Martelli is probably one of my all-time favorite crime-fiction heroes because he’s a good cop, but he’s not perfect. He’s the type of guy that believes in the law, but he also believes that laws can be bent a little bit if the end result is justice being served. Missy Dugan, his partner in both law and illegal activities, is a feisty counter to Martelli’s gruff demeanor, providing more than one laugh with her verbal sparring against Martelli. She might not be pounding the pavement with Martelli but she’s definitely an essential member of his team.

The plot moves at a steady pace, and Cohen provides plenty of depth and description to the story, allowing the reader to easily get lost within the pages. The machinations of Wall Street and the banking industry play an integral part in the storyline, and I am far from being a Wall Street guru. Fortunately, an in-depth understanding of the industries is not required because Cohen is able to walk a fine line that allows him to provide the necessary information in an easy-to-understand manner without actually talking down to us. The story took a couple of unexpected twists that I didn’t see coming, keeping me thoroughly engrossed in the book as Martelli does what he has to do to uncover the truth. The FBI, depicted as the bane of local police in numerous works of fiction, are up to their old tricks once again, hoping to keep ‘the little people’ in the dark because there’s no way they could understand ‘the big picture.’ The only complaint I have about the story is that Martelli’s partner, Sean O’Keefe, didn’t play a larger role. I understand that Martelli and Dugan are the main characters, and I wouldn’t dream of destroying that chemistry, but O’Keefe often seemed to exist just so Martelli would have someone to talk to. I’m not saying the crime-solving duo needs to be turned into a trio but I think, for future stories, it would be best if O’Keefe either had a beefier role or just went away completely.

If you enjoy the ‘ripped-from-the-headline’ stories of shows like Law & Order, then you should definitely take a ride with Lou Martelli and Missy Dugan. They’ll keep you educated, informed, and entertained all at the same time.

Editor's note:  This novel contains adult language.

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