Steve Lake is a veteran cop, now captain of a homicide squad in Manhattan. As the story opens he is in charge of a murder investigation that smacks of Russian spies and stolen documents a triple combination that is sure to threaten “The American Way.” As if that wasn’t enough on his plate Steve is beginning to question his young wife’s fidelity when he catches her in multiple lies about how she has been spending her afternoons. Early on we get pitch perfect sampling of urban cop detection when in showing how Steve’s inherent mistrustfulness is infiltrating his home life Sherry has the cop trap his wife with easily proven misstatements about what happened at the horse track she claimed to have visited. Sherry must have loved horse racing for this is the first of three crime novels to feature that pastime so popular throughout the late 1940s and into the 1960s. So upset is Steve with Vicki’s obvious and flimsy lies that he begins to follow his wife to find out what she’s doing when she claims to have taken a train to Belmont betting on horses that don’t even exist. When he sees Vicki in the company of a Slevna, a well-known concert pianist and the man who has been tutoring her musician brother, Steve is enraged. Not so much angry that his 22 year-old wife is cheating on him, but furious that she’s doing it with a man old enough to be her father.
Mistrust leads to paranoia which in turn gives way to wild imaginings based on this one eyewitness account of Vicki seen with Slevna. Soon Steve Lake finds himself contemplating a violent revenge. But as with most revenge plots in well written crime novels -- and this one surely is -- the spontaneous plan, ostensibly foolproof in Steve’s crazed mind, backfires spectacularly. As the law of crime fiction irony would have it Steve is also faced with the outrageous coincidence that Slevna is involved in the murder and subsequent corporate espionage his team is investigating. More than that basis for an intricately constructed and intriguing plot ought not to be revealed.
Sherry’s novel is a brilliant mixture of multiple subgenres, a well-oiled machine of suspense and complex conflicted characters. Steve is enraged with jealousy on one page then overcome with guilt on the next. His snarky and mean spirited lieutenant, a bully of a rival back at the station house, is an opportunistic cop eager for the captain’s desk at the start of the book then morphs into one of Steve’s allies by the end. Vicki is torn between telling her husband the truth and continuing with her weakening deceit. The novel is also an intriguing study of the tacit policemen’s code of honor and what cops will do for one another when one of their own is implicated in behavior that could ruin his career and life. In that regard this book is more timely than ever and might be cause for debate among those highly critical of such unwritten and questionable ethics.
No Questions Asked would have made an excellent film or TV episode. Brimming with cinematic details, excellent characters, and the requisite twisty plot peppered with unexpected moments this is a second novel that shows a real pro at work. Some enterprising Hollywood type ought to get a hold of this still resonant and suspenseful novel and could make it as memorable as Sherry's debut novel Sudden Fear that in its cinematic adaptation garnered four Academy Award nominations. With only two books under her belt Sherry's reputation as a solid crime novelist was firmly cemented in the annals of crime fiction history. She proved to be a contender with later novels Tears for Jessie Hewitt (reprinted by Stark House Press just this year), Backfire and Girl Missing, the last of these three being one of the most widely praised of her later novels.
Looks an excellent read, I hope they reprint her books, it looks like she was popular in Europe as I've seen German, Italian, French and Spanish versions of her books. I've got a copy Tears for Jessie Hewitt; must get round to reading it.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the review.
This one may see a reprint soon if all goes well. There’s been some difficulty in locating her grandchildren, her only living relatives now, who may still have control of literary rights.Delete
John, will you be reviewing Frank Morley's Death In Dwelly Lane ?ReplyDelete
Guess you’ll have to wait and see. My plans are always in flux these days. One day I want to pull the plug on this blog for good, another I’m eager to giveaway new books…Delete
I hope you're right about the reprint. I hope you keep going with the blog, even if it does little good for my ban balance.ReplyDelete
Thanks for all the reviews.