The fourth book on my Vincent Zandri crime spree is also his newest, "Concrete Pearl." Having read and reviewed the unholy trio that put him on the map (read my reviews of "The Remains," "The Innocent" and "Godchild"), I can safely say "Concrete Pearl" tops all of them. It's his best work to date.
The story follows "Spike" Harrison, who inherited her father's construction company. She's the general contractor for a public school job when one of her sub-contractors bails. That guy, Jimmy Farrel, is in charge of asbestos removal. Now Spike is on the hook for a bunch of sick school kids. She has to figure out where Jimmy went before her ass winds up behind bars.
Oh yeah, and she has no money. That bastard Jimmy took it all when he ran.
The reader knows much more than poor Spike, though. Zandri tells us exactly what happened to Jimmy in the first chapter. It's not a spoiler to say that Jimmy wound up under a load of wet concrete. Given that most of the novel follows Spike's attempts to find Jimmy, you'd think Zandri ruined "Concrete Pearl" before it even started.
If you thought that, you don't read enough Zandri.
There's an entire conspiracy behind why Jimmy was killed. Watching that unravel as the walls close in on Spike is what makes this novel such a gripping read. There's layers upon layers of foul play at work. Following Spike's investigation is the only way to make it followable.
Adding yet another dimension is that Zandri stated in a G-Zone interview (I forget the exact date of the show) that this is based on true events. Pulling a page from Hitchcock, he affirms this by writing himself into the story. His band, the Blisterz, plays a key role in the novel.
Whether the Blisterz were actually involved is up for speculation. Maybe I'll ask him some time. He did join the Trestle Press crew for a new series, due out later this year. (Note to self: Hell yeah.)
There's enough intrigue in "Concrete Pearl" to keep you guessing until the very end. That sounds cliche, but it's true. This is Zandri's best novel to date. You can't say it any other way.