What a difference a second book makes.
This guy Zafiro, gave us a pretty standard police procedural with his first book Under A Raging Moon. Heroes Often Fail picks up about six months to a year after the events of the first novel. Many of the same characters are back with the introduction of some new ones.
The stakes are higher in this story; the kidnapping of a little girl, right off the street, in broad daylight! Every parent's nightmare.
I thought I was going to get pretty much the same kind of story as the first novel; a standard and safe account of the men in blue of the River City Police Department. With this second showing Zafiro shows us that he's not afraid to take us in a darker direction. I got the feeling that this was his intention all along; get us hooked and then show us just how ugly the world can be.
This is by no means a splatter book, full of senseless violence or depravity (Like the cesspool Patterson plays in.) No, it is suspense in pure form; there are only two criminal acts in the primary plot line and Zafiro never exploits either of these crimes. They are shocking because they happened but he does not go into any detail at all leaving the reader to his imagination. Which feels like a nod, from the author to the reader, that he expects you to figure it out yourself. It's almost as if he won't sink to the level of his antagonists; he's just telling the story to an intelligent person.
I liked this book a lot. It was entertaining, with quick chapters that move the story along like a TV show. It never slowed down in the middle third, like a lot of books do. What struck me the most was the growth of the author himself. He could have played it safe and had the story turn out like a TV show, but this is literature, you can get away with so much more; you're not trying to please the advertisers, the book has already been paid for so you can tell the story any way you think is best. Zafiro took a turn into Noir and Hard Boiled fiction, something I am grateful for.
This is an excellent series so far and I'm looking forward to the third book Beneath A Weeping Sky.