Forty years ago on Long Island, a teenage boy helped murder a young girl and then lied about who did it, sending an innocent black man to prison. Now, the killer is the chief of the largest police force on the island.
Detective Lourdes Robles of the NYPD knows nothing of this when she arrives at the tip of Far Rockaway, at the eastern edge of her jurisdiction, responding to a call about a young woman’s body that had washed up on the beach.
As Lourdes and her partner, the not entirely reliable Robert Borrelli, investigate, they hear about unsolved murders of a few other girls who had been found outside of the NYPD’s jurisdiction on the island. As they continue to dig, they learn about still more bodies that had been discarded along the island’s Sunrise Highway for decades.
Has a serial killer been operating undetected on Long Island for 40 years? Lourdes’ superiors are skeptical, but she thinks she’s on to something. And the more she thinks about it, she realizes the killer couldn’t have avoided detection this long without help in high places.
In “Sunrise Highway,” Peter Blauner weaves two related stories: the decades-long story of the killer as he moves up the ranks of the police department, putting influential people in his debt along the way, and the months-long story of Lourdes’ investigation. In the climax, the two tales crash together violently.
The prose is economical and precise, the setting well drawn and the characters real enough to give you a chill the next time you cruise past a police car.
Blauner, who has written extensively for NBC’s “Law & Order” franchise and for CBS’ “Blue Bloods,” has produced only seven previous novels since he helped set the standard for debut crime novels with “Slow Motion Riot” in 1992. But all of them, including this one, have been worth waiting for.