This rollicking first novel charts the adventures of Detective Second Grade Brian McKenna after he is transferred to Brooklyn from his beloved Manhattan as punishment for being a troublemaker. His chances for promotion to First Grade seem remote, until a traffic accident leads to a gun battle, which in turn uncovers a massive cocaine-dealing operation. Things really heat up when the slain, unidentified gunman turns out to be carrying the severed index finger of a wealthy Peruvian known to be held hostage by the Maoist guerrilla organization Sendero Luminoso. Mahoney's ear is flawless and he has a grand sense of humor, particularly where issues of police bureaucracy are concerned--McKenna just can't get a break. Even so, comedy never gets the upper hand; the story is gripping and exciting all the way to a wham-bam stakeout at the end. A retired captain of the NYPD, now a private investigator, Mahoney proves that New York's finest can put pen to paper with terrific results. Joseph Wambaugh, watch out!Booklist
Mahoney comes from a family of cops and is retired from the NYPD himself; it's no wonder that his first novel is so realistic. Detective Brian McKenna, a renegade cop who's always in trouble with the department, loves Manhattan, but he's exiled to one of the borough precincts for his latest escapade. McKenna is riding with his partner one day when he spots a suspicious character who's obviously "carrying." The guy takes off, and Brian winds up shooting him. Little does McKenna know that his victim is a leader of a South American terrorist group that's kidnapped the son of a Peruvian official and is holding him somewhere in the city. Brian's assigned to help find the hostage before he's killed--and then the fun begins. Mahoney's writing style is rough and unsophisticated, but he tells such a good story, full of raw intensity, that it's easy to forgive him. His up-close-and-personal look at the NYPD and his gritty description of what it's like to be a big-city cop--the dangers, fears, and boredom, the scramble for promotion and good press, the pressures and the politics--make for some fine reading. If Mahoney can polish up his style just a bit, he has the potential to be a helluva writer.Los Angeles Times
Detective First Grade by Dan Mahoney is a confident first novel by a third generation New York policeman (now a private investigator) whose wife is a policewoman.
Mahoney, himself a detective first grade before he went private, gives a new meaning to the police procedural. Every step of his story is told with such minute detailing that it seems a work of memory as much as invention (and may well have elements of both.)
His detective hero, Brian McKenna, has a special eye for potential perpetrators wearing concealed weapons. He spots and chases one suspect and ends up in a shootout, killing him. The dead man is linked to Sendero Luminoso, the Shining Path, the Peruvian terrorist group. Mahoney's story is the attempt to track down a terrorist cell planning a Manhattan bombing.
While the reader often wishes an editor had cried, "Get on with it," the cumulative effect has the verisimilitude of, say, "Day of the Jackal." And the final mano-a-mano is a stunning piece of theater.Las Vegas Review-Journal-Sun
Hot-shot detective Brian McKenna has been with the New York Police Department for over 20 years, but has yet to be promoted to detective first grade. When the Hispanic male that McKenna kills in a gunfight turns out to be a member of the Peruvian terrorist group Sendero Luminoso (the Shining Path), McKenna finally gets the Big Case that should guarantee his promotion. Played out in the streets of New York's Spanish Harlem, the story follows McKenna and his fellow detectives as they work the case during the course of five days, from their initial discovery of a terrorist kidnapping to the final explosive denouement. With sure pacing, deft characterizations, and compelling plot, this polished first novel provides an entertaining look at how police forces really work. With the same assured voice of experience that Joseph Wambaugh used in his novels of the LAPD, Mahoney (a retired NYPD captain) provides a realistic image of urban police that will be popular with fans of the genre.Associated Press
Dan Mahoney's background as a crime stopper and his sly wit and key factors in making Detective First Grade excellent entertainment.
For his first novel, Mahoney, a retired captain in the New York Police Department, chooses a cast of characters straight off the streets of his hometown.
Brian McKenna is a good policeman with an enviable arrest record, but he's always in trouble for breaking department rules. Booze is a problem until McKenna awakens after a binge and finds himself behind the wheel of his car. A police officer is tapping on the window.
"McKenna just wanted to get rid of him, so he reached down for his shield. No shield. No wallet. No pants. As he tried to cook up an explanation, he looked around. He was parked in the Atlantic Ocean and the tide was coming in."
He joins Alcoholics Anonymous and is transferred from Manhattan to a notoriously well-armed Brooklyn neighborhood. His chances for promotion to detective first grade appear doomed.
McKenna gets his big break when he attempts to stop a pedestrian believed to be carrying a concealed weapon. The suspect flees into a housing complex, where he and McKenna exchange shots in the stairwell before McKenna kills him.
Taped to the gunman's back is a small box containing a photo of a man with two fingers missing, one of which is also in the box. Police identify the man in the photo as the son of a wealthy Peruvian being held hostage by terrorists. Police launch a rescue operation, directed by McKenna.
The action level climbs even higher after that and the reader is treated to an overview on how big-city police departments really operate under pressure. The ending is explosive, memorable, and well worth the time it takes to get there. For fans of the genre, get your hands on this one.