Maureen Coughlin hasn’t been in New Orleans long—just since a harrowing experience in her former home, Staten Island, led her to police training and a job as rookie cop for the New Orleans Police Department. Her Staten Island adventure was the subject of Bill Loehfelm’s first book in the series, The Devil She Knows, and in Doing the Devil’s Work, this latest installment in the series, Coughlin is still finding her way in a notoriously corrupt good-ole-boy department.
When she stops a rough-looking white couple in a crime-ridden and predominantly black part of town, Coughlin senses immediately that this late-night stop won’t go down as just a routine DUI or possession charge. But instincts are never specific: what she finds is a stash of stolen purses nicked from a bunch of drunk co-eds at a hotel earlier in the evening. But while Coughlin’s returning the cache of sequined clutches to the irate party girls, the two suspects are sent quietly on their way.
She discovers this development only because she finds herself staring down the slashed throat of the same guy the next night. It’s a gruesome crime scene that could indict not only Coughlin but also her partners, who know much more than they’re saying. The only thing clear to her is that she’s found herself messily wedged between loyalties, both inside and outside the department. Throw in a rich philanthropist and his slumlord son, a gun-trafficking organization out to kill cops, and some homeless drifters, and the story quickly gets complicated as Coughlin unwittingly finds herself under suspicion of bribery, among other things.
Fast-paced and gritty, easily devoured in a single self-indulgent afternoon, Doing the Devil’s Work is only as strong as its protagonist. Fortunately, Coughlin’s a hearty broad. Damaged, uncertain, and willing to pop a few Percocet over a sore ankle ahead of her shift, she’s a good girl who’s not too good. She’s also built like a track star, has a mouth like a convict serving time without parole, and takes pride in her orderly house even as she chain-smokes cigarettes and occasionally sleeps around. Who can fault her for such inconsistencies? Certainly not the murdering bastard she reduces to tears—and he’s not the one you think.