Recap: When a scientist commits suicide, Detective Alan Beach isn’t completely surprised to be called in to investigate. He knows there must be something more to this than just your typical suicide. Soon after, a U.S. Congressman is killed, as well as two other men in the crossfire. But when Detective Beach realizes surveillance video from both shootings reveals the same, small man in the background, it becomes clear that the shootings are inexplicably linked.
So begins Detective Beach’s investigation into the “Killing Code,” and he’s on his own. He has no partner and little help thanks to a dark past that has many of his coworkers more inclined to tease him than befriend him. Beach single-handedly discovers that a group of scientists is concocting a drug that assassins are using to kill. But who’s behind it all? And who can he trust? As more and more characters are revealed throughout the investigation and more lives lost, Beach knows he’s onto something, but what? And will he be the next victim?
Analysis: Like many crime/thriller novels of this kind, The Killing Code is a fast-paced story about an intricate murder case. And like many crime/thriller novels, the main character, Detective Beach, winds up being the one with the biggest target on his back by the end. But it’s Beach’s backstory that sets this story apart from the other novels of its kind (think Dan Brown books). His story is not revealed until later in the story, but we know it’s complicated because of the way author Craig Hurren describes his sudden move from the Boston Police Department to the Columbus Police Department and his relationship with the other detectives on his force. Not to mention, the story behind his late wife. All of this helps the reader sympathize with Beach. It makes the reader root for Beach to solve the crime even more.
One problem here, however, is there didn’t seem to be a major twist in the plot. Beach steadily peels back layer after layer of the case and keeps on track throughout. I had my suspicions when his love interest, Holly, and friend and agent Jake Riley entered the story. I wasn’t entirely sure whether or not I could trust either character. They seemed like the perfectly positioned characters to trick Beach or backstab him. I kept waiting and waiting for something shocking to happen; for one of or both of them to reveal some ulterior identity or motive. But it never happened.
That’s not to say that the book wasn’t fun and didn’t have exciting twists and turns, but I can’t think of any one mind blowing moment, and in a novel like this, that was a bit of a letdown.
MVP: Jake Riley. He’s a skilled man, who helps Detective Beach for all the right reasons. It becomes clear in the end that Beach wouldn’t have been able to solve the case if it weren’t for Jake.