Tim O’Mara’s debut introduces former NYPD officer Raymond Donne, now a public school teacher with a pair of bad knees and one missing student, Frankie Rivas. Donne left the force due to his injuries but it’s clear he’s got a little sleuth juice left in his system. When he checks on Rivas’ apartment at Roberto Clemente Plaza in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, he finds the kid’s father dead and no sign of Frankie or his sister.
Much of Sacrifice Fly illustrates Donne’s struggle to leave his past behind, especially as he impersonates an officer while investigating Frankie’s disappearance and sticks his unwanted nose back into police headquarters. Donne has his students reading Whitman in class, but he’s still the kind of meathead who can be provoked to fight outside the local dive bar with a drunk former colleague on the force. Or let a chat with Frankie’s baseball coach turn into a nearassault. He’s a believable Brooklyn-via-Long Island guy with his deli coffee, crossword puzzles, and thoughts of “beer, baseball and bed,” but he’s also a bit of a boor.
Still, some will find Donne’s stubborn dedication to one of his students likeable enough, and O’Mara’s few-and-far-between action scenes, from the Williamsburg Bridge to the shadows of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, are as satisfying as a slice of pizza on an exhaust-choked sidewalk. Sacrifice Fly is a serviceable first novel that doesn’t exactly hit it out of the park, but it’s close enough to score.