Select one of the keywords
Hoax    by Robert K. Tanenbaum order for
by Robert Tanenbaum
Order:  USA  Can
Atria, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

A new Tanenbaum thriller is always a treat. As Hoax opens, the Karp/Ciampi family is split once more, but this time there's hope in the separation. One-eyed Marlene and saintly Lucy, both recovering from trauma suffered in previous episodes, have travelled together to the New Mexican desert. There Marlene is enrolled in the 'Taos Institute of Art Healing'. Lucy plans to work with Indian teens at a Catholic youth center and to add a new language (Tiwa spoken by the Taos Pueblo Indians) to her already impressive collection.

Back in New York, Butch is shocked to find that the twins, blind Giancarlo and aggressive Zak, were at the scene of a nightclub conflict that led to murder. In fact they know the suspected killer, gangsta rap artist Alejandro Garcia, who is also close to Karp family friend Father Dugan. We meet the puppetmaster pulling the bad guys' strings early in the novel. Sociopath billionaire Andrew Kane has set a plan in motion against the Catholic Church. He has placed corrupt Father O'Callahan as the NY Archbishop's secretary and weaves a web of influence that involves both Church officials and the police hierarchy. As a lawyer, Kane's covered for both police malconduct and pedophile priests, sending the latter to a New Mexico retreat before returning them to offend again in the community.

Kane's Achilles heel is a set of files documenting his misdeeds. Mysterious calls inform Karp of their existence and set him tests to win them. Accompanying Karp in his investigations are his assistant Murrow, who 'splashed around in the muck of politics like a pig in mud' and Marlene's reporter friend Ariadne Stupenagel, who is writing an article on Butch. The interplay between Murrow and the foul-mouthed Stupenagel is very funny. In New Mexico, Marlene befriends Taos Pueblo Police Chief John Jojola and helps him to investigate the disappearance of young Indian boys. Jojola's son Charlie accidentally gets close to the villains, and an imperilled Lucy is rescued by a charming 'cowpoke'. The story starts slowly but builds to a crescendo of violence involving all members of the family, their old and new allies (including Tran Do Vinh and Grale) and their enemies.

The Karp/Ciampi clan is a fascinating one, philosophically divided in their views on the efficacy of the law, but strongly united against the world in every other way, and all vehemently fighting for justice. While the action is thrilling, I also enjoy the spiritual side of Tanenbaum's novels, which this time pulled in John Jojola's beliefs, with interventions by the trickster Coyote. It looks like Jojola has been set up to be a regular, and I look forward to more of him in the next entry in one of my favorite series.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews