Do Nothing: A Griffin Knight Murder Mystery

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A robust, workmanlike debut in the mystery genre by Miguel Angel Hernandez Jr., Do Nothing introduces Griffin Knight, a hard-bitten (is there any other kind?) New York City homicide detective. Knight takes on a vengeful serial murderer who enjoys a theatrical flourish (again, fiction knows few other types) and the novel plunges straight in with the brutal killing of a successful District Attorney in her own home. Next on the killer’s hitlist: a private detective, a retired judge and a man recently embroiled in an industrial disaster with far-reaching consequences.

Do nothing mystery

Hernandez’s head-hopping chapters and neat plot follow beats that’ll signal at least a few miles down the road to readers of Tess Gerritson, viewers of Law and Order and even gentler fare like Blue Bloods. Though crime fans might also enjoy a pleasing hat-tip to mid-century classics – a brief interlude between slayings references Raymond Chandler and his contemporaries as rendered in Hollywood Noir, one of the killer’s intended victims a film buff. The prose rattles along briskly – though it would benefit from a more judicious line-edit in places – enough to render its familiarity entertaining. While resolution to the novel’s central mystery arrives a little too soon, Hernandez takes time to set up a larger cold-case story, (think a measure of Dirty Harry with a slug of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) for our hero to contend with in his next adventure.

Despite the showmanship, the murderer’s motives aren’t opaque, while Knight himself makes a refreshingly straightforward hero in Do Nothing. He’s anomalous in a genre replete with complex cops, afflicted with dark secrets, existential torment, or torrid, messy personal lives. Not least because we learn little about him, besides a glimpse into his bantering work friendships and a somewhat unlikely passion for horticulture.

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