First of all, for the FTC schmoes who might be reading this, although I'm a powerful and respected blogger who should be getting all kinds of compensation for his work, I bought this book with my own hard-earned cash. No one paid me a penny for this review, and I've never met K. C. Constantine. In fact, I don't believe K. C. even exists, since the name is a pseudonym for someone else I've never met and whose name I don't remember at the moment.
Now on to the comments. Booklist says that Constantine's books about Mario Balzic constitute "one of the best mystery series ever published." I have no idea if the Booklist reviewer got compensation for writing that. I'll bet he got a free book, at least. I think the FTC should look into it. But I digress. Mario Balzic was, for a number of years, the Chief of Police in the fictional town of Rocksburg, PA. By the time of this book, Balzic has retired and is having a bit of trouble adjusting. He's an irascible guy, and he's getting on his wife's nerves, to put it mildly. So he hires on as a special investigator for the state attorney general's office. The case he gets involved in is pretty complicated, involving "a history of mistrials, trials, convictions, appeals, convictions, more appeals, ad nauseam." One of the people convicted has filed for a new hearing. Balzic's going to investigate the case.
Balzic's a blue-collar guy. He's crude at times, vulgar at others. But he knows how to conduct an investigation and question people, and he's smart. Sometimes he slips up, but he's always aware of it. Injustice disgusts him, and what he finds over the course if his investigation is plenty disgusting. Constantine writes great dialog, and the book is full of it. Character revelations come when you don't expect them, and they always bear on the case at hand. If you think George V. Higgins and Elmore Leonard write good dialog, you owe it to yourself to check out Constantine. Balzic's home situation figures heavily into things, too. The dialogs Balzic has with his wife are priceless (he's a conservative guy; he doesn't like to talk about sex).
Warning: Some people don't like all the dialog, which comes replete with "uh's" and repetitions and such. You'll have to judge for yourself.
Constantine received high praise from the FTC-approved big-time reviewers during his entire career. And now he's hardly mentioned. I don't know if any of his books are even in print. How soon we forget.