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A Bad Night's Sleep: A Mystery by Michael Wiley
Cover Artist: Mumtaz Mustafa
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312552244
Date: 21 June 2011 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Ex-cop Joe Kozmarski is a security guard at Chicago's Southshore Corporation. One night, he witnesses two police officers stealing from the construction site. After dialing 911, more police officers arrive and a bloody shootout erupts. Joe is forced to kill one of the bad cops, David Russo. Consequently, he is branded a cop killer and he loses his job, his gun and his detective's license. He also receives death threats. Eventually, his best friend, Detective Bill Gubman, convinces him to infiltrate a ring of crooked cops. Soon, Joe finds himself surrounded by rogue cops, gangbangers, FBI agents and high-price prostitutes. Joe must battle his own demons of alcohol and cocaine as he plunges deeper into a world of betrayal and bloody violence.

From reading Michael Wiley's A Bad Night's Sleep, I learned never to kill a cop, whether they are bad or good. In this novel, Joe Kozmarski oftentimes can't tell the difference. Neither can the reader. After killing the cop, Joe's life becomes a living nightmare in this fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat thriller that I couldn't put down. (I read it in less than two days.) Kozmarski is surrounded on all sides by bad guys. He keeps sinking deeper and deeper into a hole from which there is no escape. To make matters even worse, the bad cops are threatening the lives of his mom and his eleven-year-old nephew Jason who once lived with him until he was arrested. A Bad Night's Sleep is a pumped-up crime drama with lots of car chases, gun shooting and beautiful women in peril. Itís modern noir at its best.

As I read about Joe Kozmarski's life, as written from his point of view, I couldn't help but believe him to be a loser. He's an ex-cop, an ex-alcoholic, and an ex-drug addict who has an ex-wife, Corrine. Corrine, who owns her own landscaping business, seems like a nice person. In the past, on several occasions, they've tried to renew their marriage but his romantic trysts with his beautiful ex-partner, Lucinda Juarez, has always made this impossible. In many ways, Joe's problems are totally his fault; however, he does have a nasty knack of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nevertheless, deep down inside, Joe has a good heart. He becomes emotionally distraught, as I did, when he receives in the mail an album of memories belonging to the wife of the rogue cop, David Russo. He also receives David's wedding ring; consumed with guilt, he decides to wear it.

Not only are there poignant moments in A Bad Night's Sleep, but there is some comic relief. Some of it comes from Joe's cheap, slimy lawyer, Larry Weiss. The best advice he gives Joe is to tell him to find another lawyer. When Joe is vilified by the media as a cop killer, Larry also advices him to buy a plane ticket to Brazil. Instead of leaving the country like I would have done, Joe further infiltrates the group of rogue cops. He begins spending a lot of time at their privately owned Spa Club, which is a cover for high-price male and female prostitutes. There is a security room with numerous television screens depicting the vile acts occurring in various rooms.

A Bad Night's Sleep is my first Joe Kozmarski mystery and I hope it won't be my last. I was reading it while lying in the dentist's chair waiting for the anesthesia to numb my jaw so cavity could be filled. When enough time had passed, he announced that he was ready to drill. I had to put my book away. I exclaimed, "Darn! I was just getting to a good part. They're about to go into a stripper bar." We all had a good laugh. Trips to the dentist aren't so bad as long as I have a good crime drama to read and I highly recommend A Bad Night's Sleep. Be forewarned, you may get a bad night's sleep worrying about how poor Joe is going to get out of so much trouble when he finds himself neck-deep in bad cops.

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