Beat - Stephen Jay Schwartz Second in a series of police procedurals (very loosely defined) after Boulevard, this book can’t truly be called “noir” as there is a semblance of hope at the end, but it’s about as black as one can get.

Hayden Glass, an LAPD Robbery-Homicide detective is a sex addict. After witnessing the abduction of a hooker whom he thought liked him (he learns later what an act it was,) and with whom he thought he was in love (he has difficulty separating love from lust) he follows her abductors to San Francisco where he becomes mired in a morass of crooked cops, really evil Russian mobster/pimps, and the FBI, all of whom have differing motives for getting the girl back. It seems she was a witness to a murder that would implicate a high-ranking police officer. The mobsters want her for blackmail and the Feebs need her to bring down the crooked cops. Hayden feels impelled to save her, although his motives are anything but pure. Toward the end of the novel, one of the Russians makes this clear, “Would you like to know what you are to me, Detective? You’re my demographic. You’re the reason these girls exist. I simply supply the demand. If there weren’t a market for this, I wouldn’t be here. You’re the market. I can’t believe you don’t get that. You’ve got to be the stupidest son of a bitch I’ve ever—”

If you are in any way offended by explicit sex or extreme violence, avoid this book. I’m not, but did find the gory finale excessive if not unbelievable. Still, Schwartz has created a very sympathetic and tormented character. It will be fascinating to watch him develop in what I hope will be a long-running series.