Book Review: Surrender, New York by Caleb Carr

Caleb Carr is masterful in this criminal thriller. If you enjoy the outcast and underdog protagonist that works to solve a mystery, but ends up following a path full of sharp turns and side roads, then you will love this crime novel.

Dr. Trajan Jones and Dr. Michael Li once detectives with the NYPD. However, having made enemies in high places, they now live in exile from the police world on Trajan’s family farm in upstate New York. Trajan and Michael have worked together for many years and have seen the horrors of what people can do to each other, as well as animals. (One of their earlier cases brings Trajan close with a cheetah, Marcianna, who befriends him and is fiercely protective of.) However, now the only police experience they get is by teaching online criminal justice classes to college students.

A string of missing adolescents stuns the quiet and rural area, especially when they start to turn up dead. Local officials tap into Trajan and Michael’s expertise to help solve the mystery. Once they find out that these young boys and girls are “throwaway” children, Trajan and Michael once again witness first-hand how callous and cruel people can be, even in the policing world. The “throwaway” children lead the detectives to an even larger criminal network; one that they are stunned and disheartened to uncover.

This novel is complicated, detailed, and jaw-dropping at the same time. The detectives in this novel stumble into a cruel and heartless world where children can be thrown away by their parents or the guardians that are supposed to look out for them. At the same time, the policing agencies that are supposed to protect the towns in which they serve, turn out to be concealing the true nature of these disappearances and deaths. Trajan and Michael risk their careers, their reputations, their families, and their lives to bring light to a horrendous criminal network.

Surrender, New York took me a while to finish. I found that I had to reread several parts because of the detail in Forensics and police lingo. Despite that, I became very attached to the main characters, especially Marcianna. There are a few scenes that are graphic and disturbing, but I think that is just the nature of a crime novel that touches a humanity nerve. I wouldn’t say that this is a summer read, as it is a long novel, but it should definitely be in your line up if you enjoy mysteries and crime novels.

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