- Big If by Mark Costello
Atlantic, 315 pp, £10.99, February 2004, ISBN 1 84354 217 X
Before Mark Costello became a writer he was a federal prosecutor. His first book, Bag Men (1997), was set in 1960s Boston. A priest is murdered on the runway at Logan. A new ultra-pure drug is killing the hippies in Cambridge; another one is sending them mad. The hero, just finished at Boston College Law School, explains to his wife why he wants to be a DA: they ‘help people . . . they protect the innocent and serve the public.’ This is the ‘first big lie’ of his marriage; the truth is that ‘he wanted to see the world for itself. He wanted to see power naked. He wanted to see how bad it was.’ Costello’s legal training shows in his fiction. He writes easily about crooks, priests, lawyers, politicians, victims. And he knows how the world works: how the law works, how the police work, how power works.