Reviewed by Pennell Paugh
May 21, 2023 (San Diego) – In San Diego author Matt Coyle’s latest crime novel, private investigator Rick Cahill has become a father and husband. Having lived a tough life as an athlete and P.I., Rick’s repeated head traumas are paying their toll. He now has chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease that gives him moments of fugues and moments of out-of-control rage. Treatments are not working out; he hides his disease from his family.
In this passage, he shares his troubled thoughts:
Fourteen months after Krista’s birth, I still marveled that God graced me with a child. My heart ached with love for her. The deepest, freest love I’d ever felt. She was a little towheaded miracle who had her mother’s blue eyes and too much of my stubborn disposition. I worried about that slice of me inside her. The trait that had driven me to discover buried truths that had almost gotten me killed more than once and brought collateral damage to others …
The last couple months a barely controllable, irrational rage infected my brain and sizzled along the nerve synapses throughout my body. Its trigger was often just the micro irritations of everyday life. A driver who cut me off in traffic. An argument with Leah over having to travel on a background check instead of performing it from behind my computer in my home office. Krista dumping her food onto the floor from her high chair. Things that settled spirits let go as quickly as they arose.
I did not have a settled spirit. Even years before the CTE diagnosis, my soul was scarred from the shrapnel my actions had wrought. But those actions, those decisions came after consideration. Thought. This was new. Unrecognizable and malevolent. A fury unconnected to thought. And its reins loosened from my grasp a little more with each smothered internal explosion.
Then his business contact, Sara Bhandari is raped and murdered. The police believe her to be another victim of a serial rapist terrorizing greater San Diego. But Rick has reason to doubt their theory.
Determined to find the truth, he investigates with his partner, Moira. He bumps up against a sinister private investigative agency and a shady shell corporation that may be hiding more than company secrets. Rick confronts the PI agency and the shell corporation, making himself a target.
While his wife flees for a break from Rick’s avoidances when he runs to protect his family from his rages, Rick encounters a threat to his business. Will Rick find that his ravaged brain as well as his investigation endangers his family members?
The reader knows Rick Cahill as well as the closest of friends. He has flaws that endear him to us. We wake up at night worried about him. I’m sorry Coyle isn’t able to write faster. I’m looking forward to more of Rick Cahill’s escapades.
Matt Coyle is the author of the best-selling Rick Cahill crime novels. He graduated with a degree in English from University of California at Santa Barbara. His foray into crime fiction was delayed for thirty years as he spent time making a living. Writing at night for over a decade his debut novel, Yesterday’s Echo, was finally published in 2013. The wait was almost worth it. It won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, the San Diego Book Award for Best Mystery, the Ben Franklin Award for Best New Voice in Fiction. Doomed Legacy is Coyle’s tenth Rick Cahill novel; all have been award-winners.
Coyle lives in San Diego with his yellow Lab, Angus, where he is writing his next book, How to Write a Successful Series.