The Guise of Another
by Allen Eskens
Review by Mel Jacob
Seventh Street Books Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781633880764
Date: 06 October 2015 List Price $15.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Allen Eskens' new noir police mystery, The Guise of Another, focuses on murder, an assumed identity, and an international assassin. When Detective Alexander Rupert discovers the victim in a cold case file is not the person he was reported to be, he sees an opportunity to overcome his disgrace and regain his former standing. However, he has no idea how convoluted the puzzle is and the power and determination of corrupt men unwilling to accept blame for a murder in the past.
Alexander idolizes his fellow police officer and brother Max and wants to live up to him. However, Alexander is being forced to testify before a Grand Jury about police corruption and his possible role in thefts of drug money. He insists he is innocent. Meanwhile, his marriage is floundering and he has done nothing to prepare a response to the Grand Jury.
Assigned to Cold Cases, he comes across an accidental death and finds some odd discrepancies. James Putnam, the man killed in Minnesota, was supposed to have died in New York. The dead man in Minnesota was not James Putnam from Brooklyn. Alexander travels to New York and seeks help from police there. He also learns of a boat explosion thirty years ago in which a respected business executive died along with a friend of James Putnam.
A visit to the woman who was living with the dead man turns up nothing of his background. Events soon reveal the false James Putnam had something someone wanted. During the woman's absence, the apartment is ransacked. Alexander invites her to his home until she can make other arrangements.
Corpses begin to pile up as the assassin seeks whatever incriminating evidence Putnam had. The narrative switches between Alexander and the assassin in the race to find the evidence of the earlier murder. The sociopathic assassin wants to eliminate all loose ends. Alexander wants to take out the assassin and redeem his tarnished reputation. The woman, a proper femme fatale, wants money and is not averse to blackmail.
Eskens keeps the pages turning and the reader filled with dread in this dark mystery with plenty of violence, sex, and high stakes for those involved. There are enough red herrings and missteps to make the end uncertain. Except for the title, a stellar effort, combining a mystery and thriller. Eskens is also the author of The Life We Bury.