It takes serious balls to begin a book with your protagonist deliberately putting a bullet into his own head, but that’s exactly how Vincent Zandri kicks off his high-octane new thriller Moonlight Falls. Richard “Dick” Moonlight, you see, is not your typical protagonist. In fact, he’s seriously screwed up. As one character tells him, “You fell off the tree of fucked-up-weird and slammed every branch on the way down.” Fucked-up-weird notwithstanding, it’s the fragment of .22 bullet left in his brain following his book opening suicide attempt that forces Moonlight’s retirement from the Albany police department.
Unable to commit to a new job because the placement of the bullet fragment leaves him prone to untimely blackouts and seizures, not to mention serious lapses in judgment, Moonlight finds himself being called upon by his former partner to serve as an outside investigator on cases that need a discrete, but ‘official’, rubber stamping in order to close them… for a fee, of course.
This arrangement becomes a problem when he’s called to the scene of the apparent suicide of Scarlet Montana, wife of his ex-boss Chief of Detectives Jake Montana. Unlike previous callouts, Moonlight can’t bring himself to rubber stamp suicide as the cause of death, collect his under the table fee and be done with it. The sticking point? Not only was Moonlight having an affair with her, but he had been with her only hours before her death. What’s more, given his spotty memory – not to mention the bloody, scratched up hands he doesn’t remember acquiring – he honestly doesn’t know if he could be responsible for her death. But he’s determined to find out what really happened to Scarlet, no matter what the consequences to himself may be.
What unfolds over the course of his investigation provides a non-stop, tension filled ride for the reader; one that includes a mysterious albino, Fugitive-esque pursuit by authorities, grave robbing, a police conspiracy, and a black market organ harvesting ring. There is so much going on that even the most accomplished reader of mysteries and thrillers will be hard pressed to figure out in advance what really happened, as Moonlight Falls delivers twists and swerves right up until the final chapter, even after having seemingly revealed the answer to the mystery.