“American Sextet” by Warren Adler: an ingenuous crossroads of politics, crime, justice and personal vendetta
Fiona Fitzgerald — star in a series of mystery novels and a soon to be TV series — is a woman of our times. She has her doubts about her job as a homicide detective, her colleagues, her boss, herself and Washington politics. That makes her an attractive lead in the novels of veteran author Warren Adler, who has created a fine Washington setting for her and some gritty murders to deal with. Fiona knows the capitol inside out and this lands her many important cases to deal with; unfortunately that also means that she has to face many members of the political elite under uncomfortable circumstances.
As in all Fiona Fitzgerald novels, in “American Sextet” Adler sketches the capitol and its inhabitants with skill and obvious inside knowledge — as a sidestep I like to refer to “Banquet Before Dawn” and “The Henderson Equation“, two of his mainstream novels that also take part in Washington and demonstrate the same skill in a different context. Next to Fiona’s charming, real character I find this Washington DC setting another major attraction. This is not just ‘some’ city, this is ‘it’, this is the place of power. And, as we all know, with power comes abuse.
As far as the story is concerned, I found “American Sextet” ingenuous and original. The end was more than appropriate, it was also cleverly found. A crossroads of politics, crime, justice and personal vendetta.
Perhaps this is the special talent if Warren Adler, to add something to a crime story that makes something more out of it. There’s a completeness to this Fiona Fitzgerald that I find rare in this genre. Not only are we involved in the crime, but we also get a relevant look into Fiona’s private life – a life that’s far from uncomplicated by the way. These private matters have a habit of intruding on the story, which is another typical talent of this author: he creates real people and he does this with honesty. Fiona Fitzgerald is a young woman in a male police force, she’s also a minority with a biological clock to be exact, and Adler doesn’t try to go around that – he makes it part of the story. And then, right when you think it’s just a sidestep, he merges everything back together again, like an unexpected fist in your face. See what you think.