Remember the name Dennis Tafoya, write it down now, he is going to be on the bestseller lists very soon. If you are a fan of Dennis Lehane or George Pelecanos you will love his books. Like those two great writers his books are written with heart and use the crime genre to comment on the state of our communities and the cities in which we live.

Tafoya’s first novel was DOPE THIEF. I was drawn to the book because it sounded like Omar from THE WIRE but making a living stealing from drug dealers is where the similarities end. Ray is the title’s dope thief. He’s very good at it but eventually steals from the wrong people. The beauty of this book is that where 99% of every other crime novel would end DOPE THIEF adds one more act giving the story a redemptive quality rather than a violent showdown.

While DOPE THIEF did sit in my ‘to read’ pile for a couple of months I picked up THE WOLVES OF FAIRMOUNT PARK straight away. The novel’s opening echoes Dennis Lehane’s MYSTIC RIVER. Two boys are caught in the middle of a shooting between rival drug gangs. Rather than structure a whodunit around the incident Tafoya asks what everyone asks after a tragic incident occurs, why?

THE WOLVES OF FAIRMOUNT PARK is told from multiple points of view including the boys’ fathers, the detective assigned the case, a struggling junkie and a member of one of the drug crews. Tafoya creates a rich world so intricate and interconnected that one person’s attempt at manipulating events ripples through everyone in the community; innocent, guilty or somewhere in between.

Like DOPE THIEF the book is only available in hardcover in the US. I can’t wait for both books to be released in paperback (or the author picked up in Australia).

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