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by David Rosenfelt
Minotaur Books, February 2013
295 pages
ISBN: 1250024765

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The murder of a judge is always a high profile event, and that is certainly true when Daniel Brennan is killed a short time before he is scheduled to take a seat on an appeals court. Lieutenant Luke Somers of the New Jersey State Police follows one promising lead to the home of a drug addict, Steven Gallagher, whom he ends up killing in self defense. Steven's brother, Chris, is convinced that his brother could not have murdered anyone. To achieve his goal of proving Steven innocent, he kidnaps Luke's brother, Bryan, and imprisons him in an underground room which has only a seven-day supply of air. If Luke doesn't prove that Steven is not guilty by then, his brother will die.

Initially, Luke only half-heartedly investigates Brennan's death—he is almost completely certain that Steven is the killer. But the further that he progresses on the case, the more he becomes convinced that he is mistaken and that somebody else is the perpetrator. The issue then becomes one of clearing Steven's name before Bryan's prison runs out of air. Bryan does have limited access to a computer, and he and Luke are able to communicate with one another. The ticking clock device is used with great success in AIRTIGHT. Suspense mounts as the time limit comes near. There are many complications that don't bode well for a successful outcome.

The real strength of the book lies in its characters. Rosenfelt did a particularly good job in his depiction of Chris Gallagher. Chris was in the military and uses that background to manage the situation. Despite the fact that he has placed Luke's brother into grave danger, he is not an evil man and at times even helps Luke in his quest. Although the plot is well constructed, there were a few areas that didn't quite work for me. For one, it seemed improbable to expect that even a large contingent of law enforcement agents would be able to find an underground bomb shelter in northern New Jersey. Secondly, the book ends with a big twist that felt forced for effect. I wished that had been handled with a more subtle hand. Nonetheless, I enjoyed AIRTIGHT and found the pages turning quickly.

§ Formerly a training development manager for a large company, Maddy is now retired and continues to enable the addiction of crime fiction fans as owner of the online discussion group, 4 Mystery Addicts(4MA), while avidly reading in every possible free moment herself.

Reviewed by Maddy Van Hertbruggen, March 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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