Harry Hunsicker is a Dallas-based writer whose five crime novels, although they feature two different Mr. Fix-It-type characters, have all been set in that city. The first three books feature Lee Henry Oswald, a man whose very name is certain to cause him problems in a city still scarred by one of the most infamous political assassinations in American history. The main character of Hunsicker’s two most recent books, including The Shadow Boys, is one John Cantrell – ex-cop, ex-DEA contractor – who shares Mr. Oswald’s line of work.
As The Shadow Boys opens, John Cantrell is happy enough with his new job, one in which he “fixes” problems for a local law firm. Cantrell is good at making problems go away, something that the firm and its clients appreciate. But when Piper, Cantrell’s ex-girlfriend, asks him to sit down with a high-ranking Dallas cop who needs some help, things get complicated fast. Raul Delgado, the Dallas white-collar cop in question, is looking for a little boy who has gone missing, but he would rather not involve the Dallas Police Department in his search for the boy.
Delgado, as it turns out, has a soft spot for poor kids growing up on the streets of Dallas because years earlier he himself had been one of those kids. He, though, was one of the lucky ones. Someone cared enough about kids like him to offer him a chance at a different future, and now, forty years after he saw his brother die at the hands of a racist Dallas cop, Delgado is one of the highest ranking policemen in the entire city.
Cantrell, largely because he still has a thing for his ex, reluctantly agrees to search for the missing boy. But, in the meantime, someone in Dallas has taken it upon himself to clean up the streets vigilante-style, and when that vigilante becomes aware of Cantrell’s search for the missing boy, part of Dallas turns into a war zone. Is the missing boy somehow tied to this killer? All Cantrell knows is that, if he is to survive long enough to find out, it is probably more important that he find the shooter than the missing boy.
Hunsicker takes the reader on quite a ride in The Shadow Boys. There is no shortage of suspects – or for that matter, of good guys - in this noirish thriller, and readers failing to pay attention to plot and character development could get lost along the way. Keep that from happening…and this one will be a fun read.