Slaughter of the Innocent by John F. Nolan

★★★★  In the latest Patti Mac Mystery, author John F. Nolan creates an intriguing and heart-wrenching drama centered around Detective Lieutenant Patricia Ann McCoy, a strong female protagonist. As the fearless commander of the Nassau County Homicide Squad, Patti works tirelessly to lead her team through the thickets of crime and abuse in the pursuit of justice. When a baby girl is found killed in the squalor of a dirty apartment, Patti makes it her mission to track down the mother that abandoned and killed the chid. As she cracks open the case and expertly follows its twists and turns, her own personal story is revealed regarding motherhood and her struggles with infertility. In the end, Patti is able to solve the case because of her open mind and kind heart. As Patti learns, not every killer’s motives are always what you might expect. 

Nolan uses his extensive experience as a Homicide Detective to lend credibility and expertise to Patti and her team’s work. The detail in which this fictional case is written provides excitement for the reader in its twists and turns. It also provides a glimpse into the hard work that these detectives take on, at great personal and emotional cost to themselves. Perhaps the novel is its most unique in the way it highlights motherhood, abortion, and transgender issues within the community. While these topics provide an interesting plot twist not often seen in the genre, they also give voice to underprivileged and struggling people on the margins of society. Patti’s character becomes problematic only in that the depth of her character is sometimes lost under the weight of the plot. The personal struggles she experiences while solving this case are not satisfactorily dealt with, and her path to healing seems rushed. All the same, though, Patti’s story is inspiring, and the mystery, thrilling, if also heartbreaking. Avid readers of police thrillers will be eagerly awaiting the next Patti Mac Mystery.

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