Fans of the Georgia Davis PI series (Easy Innocence and Doubleback), and anybody who loves police procedurals written tautly, with grit and a healthy dose of noir, will love this one. Toxicity is a prequel to the other Georgia Davis PI books and takes place 10 years earlier when Georgia is a young cop on a suburban Chicago police force.
The story opens with a hook. The antagonist overseeing the death of a man dying in agony. This prologue will pull readers in to grab their attention like a road accident. There is no cure for morbid curiosity. We know we shouldn’t look, be we can’t help ourselves.
In suburban North Shore Chicago three bodies turn up in succession, all ‘dumped’; one in a garbage truck to be ground up, one in a landfill and one in a pit in a waste disposal site. Glenbrook detective Matt Singer is called to the scene of the first body where Officer Georgia Davis, his fiancé, is securing the scene doing crowd control. Soon another body is discovered in the jurisdiction of Detective Sergeant John Stone, from neighboring Northview. There’s nothing to tie the crimes together except for the fact that both were peripherally associated with a developer named Feldman who also owns the garbage company. Singer and Stone partner up, and when a third body shows up, and the actual cause in none of the deaths is readily identifiable by the M.E. The political pressure, and the pressure from the wealthy Feldman’s, starts to pile on.
Solid leads are few, and clues are non-existent. As much as can be determined, all three deaths were from different causes and could have been innocently explained, except that all three bodies were moved to Feldman properties. Singer is driven by his Jewish heritage to reconcile murder and the pursuit of justice for the victim with his heritage. Even though Georgia is a young inexperienced patrol cop, he recognizes her intelligence and tenacity and unofficially thrusts her into the case. But when Singer and Davis’ boss finds out they are living together, Davis is suspended. At first Davis is hurt by the fact that Singer betrayed her in order to stay on the case, and also because of the fact that to Singer's family, Davis is just Singer's shiksa — and she not only feels rejected by his family, but looked on as a flirtation or even his whore.
Georgia hits the bottle, but soon gets herself together and starts to research the different deaths, looking for a common thread. Meanwhile Singer, frustrated by the lack of progress, and succumbing to both the pressure from his family and the pressure from his bosses, marginalizes Georgia and starts falling for the beautiful Ricki Feldman, the daughter of the wealthy developer who had started off as a garbage man 20 years earlier. Ricki is not only an observant Jew, but stunningly gorgeous, and she has Singer in her sights.