This is the second novel in the “More” series of dystopian thrillers set in the Second Great Depression in NYC. More and Santiago’s new unit is now detailed to the NYPD’s most elite division to investigate the brutal mob killing of a high-profile hedge fund founder. Their team is also assigned its first Federal, and female, member (whom More and Santiago instantly dislike) from a financial-crimes division of the Treasury Department. Tensions immediately escalate when the team discovers the victim’s underling is on the run with an encrypted computer drive containing information sensitive enough to draw in an array of international hit men who commence a deadly manhunt through the city. The case leads to a horrific terror plot against the city’s buses in order to create a stock market crash for the benefit of the criminal mastermind who created the encrypted drive. More is turned on the loose in full combat mode over Santiago’s objections and brings a taste of Afghanistan to New York City.
Seven months after the disappearance of Everett “Ever” More, Detective Second Grade Sixto Santiago is still desk-bound and waiting to be released into active duty. Left to clean up the mess More left behind him, Santiago has been putting his nose to the grind, studying for the sergeant’s exam. He’s finally beginning to accept desk duty, learning to cope with all the chaos that More had wrecked, when a woman from the Treasury department arrives… and Everett More isn’t far behind.
Santiago remains my favorite hard-pressed detective. The things that More puts him through make you want to jump into the book and take the Marine by the throat, just to help Santiago out some. That he hasn’t drawn his gun on his sometimes partner only proves that Santiago has the patience of a saint, even if it does falter now and again. He’s not perfect though, not by a long shot, but he is real and, in this fictional, devastated New York City, he’s exactly the kind of cop they need on the streets.
More is an enigma. He’s also an extremely frightening individual. Having seen combat in Afghanistan, he’s a trained soldier with very little to lose, and he makes sure everyone around him knows it. Despite that, there’s something intriguing and even a little bit endearing to his character. Maybe it’s that Santiago puts up with him so well or maybe it’s something else, but I was happy to see him reappear in this novel. Although, I’m pretty sure Santiago would have my head for even thinking that. Despite their differences and animosity towards each other, they really do make a good team, one that gets things done and done well.
The Big Dogs brings the same kind of intensity and excitement that you found in Rivers of Gold. Santiago is growing as a character and becoming more able to deal with the force that is known as Ever More. Although the author still goes overboard with the technical details, the mystery and action are as good as ever. The author brings a bleak and interesting look to a New York City we’ll hopefully never know, but one that is fitting for two men like More and Santiago.