Title: Exit .45 (Marshall Grade 3)
Author: Ben Sanders
Published: January 2022
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Readership: Crime fiction
I received a copy of Exit .45 from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
When a former NYPD colleague is shot dead in front of him, private investigator Marshall Grade discovers there’s far more to the killing than meets the eye.
Ray Vialoux is in trouble. Big trouble. And he needs Marshall Grade’s help.
Reluctantly, Grade agrees to meet. Over dinner in a Brooklyn restaurant, he learns that his former NYPD colleague owes money – a lot of money – to the wrong people. But the conversation is cut short by gunfire, and suddenly Ray is lying dead on the restaurant floor.
As Marshall investigates the circumstances leading up to the murder, tracking down the drug dealers, bag men, bent cops and mob players within Ray’s orbit, it becomes clear there’s far more to the killing than a gambling debt. Just who is responsible for Vialoux’s death . . . and why? What secrets are his family hiding? And can Marshall find the answers before his own history marks him as the prime suspect?
Ben Sanders is a new-to-me author and I received a copy of the latest book in his Marshall Grade series from Allen and Unwin for review. Crime fiction doesn’t make up a huge part of my regular reading these days (although there have been years when it did) so it’s always nice to try a new author in the genre and read something different to the majority of my other current reads.
Exit .45 is the third book in a series, but it can be read as a standalone without worrying about missing important information. We follow a former NYPD undercover cop whose cover was blown, and who was accused of stealing money from the mob. The NYPD wasn’t able to pin anything on him, he left the force and now Marshall Grade works as an unlicensed private investigator. When a former colleague and friend is shot and killed in front of him – supposedly for gambling debts – Grade decides to investigate who is behind the murder.
This is a book with plenty of problems, clues and pathways that Grade needs to unravel in order to find out why his friend is murdered – which is great, because it means as a reader I want to keep turning the page to find out what’s going on. There are lots of plot twists and turns, and characters who appear who may or may not have something to do with what’s actually going on. As a character, Grade is tenacious in finding the truth – and he doesn’t seem to particularly care if people get caught in the wash of his race to find out what’s really happening.
Something I appreciated in the book was how Sanders included a lot of Grade’s internal thought processes – both in his personal life and his professional one. We learn a lot about him as a character from the way he interacts and views the world. While there’s no specific diagnosis of neuro-diversity on page, it’s clear that Grade needs to have some measure of control over his surroundings to focus – things lined up neatly in rows, specific ways to complete the puzzle he’s been working on – which bleeds into his investigative work. He’s a stickler for details and this is what makes him good at following leads, and makes for a compelling character to read.
While there were plenty of side characters, the biggest one is probably New York City itself. Grade travels around the city a lot through the course of the book and the city feels dark and gritty and like its’ holding its own secrets, which lends an interesting atmosphere to the book.
I really enjoyed exploring the world of Marshall Grade through Exit .45. Once it got its’ hooks into me I didn’t want to put it down and I look forward to reading future books in the series in the future.