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.
Knight suspects the involvement of a serial killer known as The Judge, whose case file was closed seven years prior. As Knight delves deeper into the investigation, he encounters numerous suspects with motive and connections to the victim. The plot builds tension and suspense, culminating in a high-stakes showdown between Knight and the killer.
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 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. In a genre replete with complex cops, afflicted with dark secrets, past trauma, existential torment, or messy personal lives Knight fits right in.
Over the course of 2022 and 2023 Do Nothing has earned 9 awards from various book sites and competitions. In March of 2023, Hernandez rereleased the book on Kindle to fix some minor editing issues called out by reviewers on Amazon. Currently the book enjoys a 4.3 star review overall. You can learn more about the author at his website.