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Airtight by David Rosenfelt
Cover Artist: Photo: Window by Dominik Pabis / Getty Images
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250024763
Date: 12 February 2013 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Stephen Gallaher, a drug addict and a pathetic loser, is suspected of stabbing Judge Daniel Brennan thirty-seven times. When the police raid his apartment, an emotionally distraught Stephen raises his gun, as though to shoot himself, and Lieutenant Luke Somers shoots him to death in self defense. Stephen has a big brother, Chris Gallaher, who has served in Afghanistan as Black Ops; he's a trained killing machine. Chris kidnaps Luke's brother, Bryan, and hides him in an underground, airtight bomb shelter. In approximately seven-and-a-half days, Luke must find Judge Brennan's true killer before Bryan suffocates to death. To complicate matters, Luke must also investigate the bombing deaths of those associated with a large company, Hanson Oil & Gas, that wants to extricate natural gas from the small town of Brayton, New Jersey.

From its bloody beginning to its explosive finale, David Rosenfelt's Airtight is a fast-paced, tightly written mystery that will take your breath away. Many of Rosenfelt's novels have extremely violent plots where the lives of many are imperiled; his latest is no exception. Some of the violence was not only bloody but quite shocking. I literally gasped when one of the major players was murdered. That let me know right then that anyone was fair game. I didn't know who would die next, nor did I learn the identity of the person who was responsible for all the mayhem until the very end. I only knew that he/she had to be rich in order to plan and orchestrate it. Needless to say, I had difficulty putting down this novel. On a Friday night, I read the last one-hundred pages in a single sitting. I would have finished it sooner but that bothersome daytime job of mine gets in the way.

Our resident hero is smart-alecky, trigger-happy, womanizing Lieutenant Luke Somers who desperately needs religion. He has a lot of guilt to expunge. First, he feels guilty about murdering Stephen Gallaher. (Couldn't he have just shot him in the arm?) Deep down inside, he feels, as does Chris Gallaher, that everyone's favorite whipping boy was probably framed for the judge's murder. Second, Luke feels guilty about sleeping with his wimpy brother's beautiful lawyer wife, Julie, in a clichéd moment of weakness. (He's still a dog!) In all fairness, the author has probably omitted that she cheated on Bryan with lots of other men. Third, Luke feels guilty about Bryan facing death by suffocation inside the airtight bomb shelter; he wouldn't have been at Luke's house that night he was kidnapped by Chris if he hadn't learned about the affair.

Chris Gallaher also feels a lot of guilt, especially about not being able to prevent his brother's murder. He's tried to protect Stephen all of his life. Chris and Luke have a lot in common. Perhaps that is why they don't try to kill each other. Both are large men who are trying to seek justice for Stephen's death. The themes of love and commitment and loyalty are evident in this novel.

Through e-mails, the two brothers, Luke and Bryan, attempt to grow closer during what appears to be their last hours together. While reading this novel, I couldn't help but think about my own brother who lives 500 miles away in Tennessee. We need to grow closer together before it's too late.

There is also a lot of betrayal and double crossing in this novel. The evil person responsible for all the murders is double crossing practically everyone he/she knows in an attempt to tie up loose ends.

The novel is set primarily in the rural town of Brayton, New Jersey. It is a quiet, peaceful community that is struggling through this economic downturn. Brayton seems almost ideal except for the large, bullying Hanson Oil & Gas that wants to buy land in order to perform the environmentally unsound practice of fracking. Fracking, not to be confused with flatulence, which also involves gas, is the extrication of natural gas from shale. The reader learns a lot about fracking, politics, another process involving gas, and bomb shelters.

There are a lot of bomb shelters in rural New Jersey. Missile silos, emptied of their weapons since the Cold War, have been converted into underground apartments and mother-in-law suites. I didn't realize these bomb shelters were airtight; I guess they must be able to keep oxygen from entering if they are also going to keep radiation from entering. Yes, it is the perfect place to put your mother-in-law. Lock her up and go on a two-week vacation. No more problems.

David Rosenfelt's Airtight is a fun read that is highly recommended for fans of action-packed mysteries involving a lot of violent mayhem. Reading a Rosenfelt novel is like watching a horror movie. You know it's not real and it's highly implausible; however, you enjoy watching the gore and counting up the dead bodies. You and your friends scream and laugh the entire time, especially during those insane Final Destination films.

I enjoyed Airtight as much as Rosenfelt's other standalone novels that I've read: Down to the Wire and On Borrowed Time. However, his Andy Carpenter novels, such as One Dog Night and Leader of the Pack, appear to have been written when Rosenfelt was awake and living in reality rather than asleep and living in a crazy nightmare. Nevertheless, I look forward to Rosenfelt's next novel of murder and mayhem.

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