“A smart, tense tale that keeps its classic cop drama relevant to current events.” — Kirkus Reviews
Pope Francis’ long anticipated visit to Philadelphia is a month away. Secret Service agent Nikki Cartwright and her team spent the last year overseeing the security arrangements for the visit. As a Philly girl Nikki took great pride in her role, and carried the weight of her responsibility for the Pope’s safety as a badge of honor.
The intersection of 60th and Haverford Avenue in West Philly is one of the most notorious drug corners in the city. Despite Police Officer Jake Loman’s repeated calls to the Narcotics Division during the past several weeks, the corner gang’s ‘bness’ continued unabated. When he stopped at the corner late one night to the welcoming shouts of “Five-O” as the crew ran for cover, the head of the gang, his gold-capped front teeth sparkling in the light of a neon sign, told the young police officer he was wasting his time.
Seconds later a man wearing a Thobe, an Arab robe, over his street clothes, runs out of the corner bodega firing wildly at Loman. Jake takes several rounds before he can return fire. Were it not for the Kevlar vest he was wearing he would never have survived the attack. When the attacker is taken into custody he asks the arresting officers, “Is the Jew dead?” Loman is Jewish.
Veteran detective Frank Benson is assigned to the investigation. In light of his checkered past, Benson and his commanding officer were surprised that he had been given the assignment. In anticipation of the Pope’s visit the drain on the Philadelphia Police Force’s manpower resulted in the temporary assignment of Sergeant Ophelia Brown-Thurman to assist Benson. The two veteran officers have known each other since they trained at the academy 16 years ago. Ophelia’s familiarity with Officer Loman, as his platoon sergeant and her sterling reputation on the force, was a clear asset to the team.
The investigation hits a major road block when Loman’s attacker is murdered while in custody. Loman had never encountered his attacker before, and did not know how he knew he was Jewish. Loman’s attacker publicly asserted that his actions were motivated by his support for ISIS. Nikki’s attention to the attempted assassination of Officer Loman is drawn to the case as a result.
When Nikki arrives at the briefing she discovers that Benson, who she had a teenage crush on when he dated her older sister, was in charge of the investigation. Because of the possible terrorist connection, Nikki decides to monitor Benson an Ophelia’s investigation.
Is the attack on the police officer connected to the Pope’s visit? Benson, Ophelia and Nikki’s investigation leads them to both a deeper look at the drug culture and the possible corruption of the police assigned to control it, and the possible connection of terrorists to the Muslim community as they try to solve the crime. The pace of their investigation quickens as the city gets ready for the Pope’s arrival.
All of the action culminates as the Pope celebrates Mass in the presence of 100,000 VIPs, pilgrims and celebrants on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.