NPR Review by Joan Baum:
Lawrence Kelter’s new crime novel, Secrets of the Kill (F Street Books) moves from an opening target-practice scene starring Kelter’s tough, smart-mouth ex-Marine and FBI agent Chloe Mather, to her investigation of a local homicide, and then to chapters starring Mafiosi. Mather, who’s spent fighting time in Afghanistan, is a delightful heroine. She gets on well with her live-in love, Liam, a meteorologist, and they both share a cottage in Huntington, with her mother Grace. Chloe’s feisty and smart, and it takes her no time to find out the name of the homicide victim, a young woman whose dismembered torso has been accidentally speared one night by a guy into illegal fishing. It turns out that the woman, Rachel Rabin, was working for Israeli intelligence in an office not far from JFK that fronts as a freight transport business. In reality, the place manages an operation run by The Mob, an exchange program – heroin for guns that are sent to a well-heeled sheik planning to kill thousands of Jews in New York.
The most engaging parts of the novel involve put-down exchanges between her and her FBI partner, the fast-mouth, equally funny Dominic Cabrera (he calls her “Gumdrop”) who matches her, insult for insult. No romance, but lots of affection and mutual respect. Meanwhile, another kind of adventure has kicked in: an airplane in distress. The pilot of an incoming Israeli Air Force Gulfstream radios JFK that his co-pilot is ill, but soon he, too, falls unconscious. A lone passenger, a top intelligence agent on his way to find out what happened to Rachel, takes over and lands the plane. These chapters, though exciting, seem removed from the Chloe-centered ones, especially as the narrative becomes more ideological – terrorists vs. Israel. Everything is explained eventually, including some simulation technology. Secrets of the Kill is a fast-moving romp. Kelter, who has a fine comic sense, should roll it out without distraction next time and stay away from international scenarios that in real life often seem stranger – and more “secretive” than fiction.
A mutilated body has been discovered; a body not meant to be found, but now that it has, Pandora’s box is open and secrets never to be learned have been revealed.
An Israeli woman living in New York has been murdered. She has been raped and butchered; an outrage that ignites a fuse that burns all the way back to Tel Aviv.
Enter FBI Agent Chloe Mather, a hard-charging ex-Marine who has no sympathy for the kind of maggot who could commit such a violent atrocity. A veteran of the war in Afghanistan, she was one of the first woman Marines to be deployed into an active combat area. She struggles with PTSD and the consequences of a fatherless childhood, yet this is a woman who accepts no pity and operates according to a moral code that is second to none. She’ll stop at nothing to find the psychopath responsible for this unspeakable crime. In Secrets of the Kill, Mather and this code will face the ultimate test.
What begins as a challenging homicide becomes more, much more, and Mather is pulled into an investigation that involves the mob, Israeli intelligence, and a radical terrorist faction.
They say that blood is thicker than water but is it thicker than the bonds of patriotism? Mather will ponder this question and many others as she fights to bring an innocent woman’s murderer to justice, and prevent a geopolitical atrocity from taking place on American shores.