PAYBACK by Lorenzo Carcaterra

November 20, 2020

Tank Rizzo, Book 2

From the publisher:

Payback is personal for a former NYPD detective taking on a corrupt cop and a dirty accounting firm in this adrenaline-laced thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Sleepers and Tin Badges.

If there’s one kind of person Tank Rizzo hates most in this world, it’s a dirty cop. Criminals are at least honest about being dishonest; dirty cops are a disgrace to the badge they carry. Detective Eddie Kenwood is one such disgrace. He’s got the highest signed-confession rate in the NYPD and a distinguished career built on putting men behind bars—whether they’re guilty or not doesn’t matter much to him. When Tank’s partner, Pearl, tells him about an old family friend Kenwood put in jail for a murder he didn’t commit, Tank and Pearl vow to take Kenwood down.

Also in need of a takedown: the money-laundering accounting firm where Tank’s brother used to work—before he mysteriously died, leaving Tank the sole guardian of his nephew, Chris. Chris smells a rat, and enlists Tank’s help to bring the men who had his father killed to justice.

Working two big cases means getting out the big guns, and Tank assembles his A-team. With help from a retired mobster, a professional boxer, a Chelsea psychic, a dog named Gus, and the U.S. Attorney—not to mention his and Pearl’s own quick wits and Chris’s burgeoning skills as a computer whiz—Tank gears up to take on his most dangerous and personal cases to date.


Payback is the second novel featuring Tank Rizzo and his friends taking down evildoers in their own inimitable style; not always the absolutely correct way but seeing justice done. Tank was a detective with the New York city police department but was injured in his last take down. His partner at the time, Pearl lost the use of his legs in the same shootout. The two remain good friends and are sometimes involved with a case given to them by their ex chief at the police department. These are situations in which the use of regular department personnel  may not be feasible for one reason or another.     

Tank’s brother and his sister-in-law were killed in an automobile accident.  Their son Chris was taken in by Tank and they are learning to live with each other in spite of his parents and uncle being on the outs for years. The opening of the novel finds that Chris has developed into a very talented computer guru. He has investigated the accounting firm that his father was working for when he died in the accident and found that there were several irregularities that were never thoroughly investigated. He brings his concerns to Tank who decides to investigate the circumstances surrounding his brother’s death. This is a situation that was made more difficult due to the two men not speaking for many years based on an incident in their past.     

Pearl, in the meanwhile, has been approached on behalf of an old family friend jailed unfairly by a crooked New York City detective. The man has spent years imprisoned due to a confession he was forced to make by Eddie Kenwood, the detective in question. Pearl and Tank decide to look into that case as well as going after the accounting firm that Tank’s brother worked for.     

The investigations are aided by various groups not necessarily on the side of the law.  For example, the father of Tank’s girlfriend who just happens to be a mob boss, a crew of knife-wielding thieves, the attorney general (how did they get into that group), a retired boxer, and a cute little dog that Chris has been gifted with.  It has been some time that a hard-boiled detective has appeared in fiction but Tank and his allies make for excellent subjects and create an engrossing novel.  There is no doubt that Lorenzo Carcaterra has started a series that will be continued in the future and enjoyed by his readers.

11/2020 Paul Lane

PAYBACK by Lorenzo Carcaterra. Ballantine Books (August 25, 2020). ISBN: 978-0399177590. 304 pages.

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