Jack Marconi (aka “Keeper”) is warden of the maximum-security Green Haven Prison in New York. Once used to house German POWs during WWII, it’s now the home of 2,500 inmates, which includes the permanent population plus transients to Attica or Sing Sing.
Since his wife was killed in a traffic accident, Marconi has kind of lost his focus on work. He’s been having flashbacks of the Attica riots where he worked as a corrections officer.
The one day, a cop killer named Eduardo Vasquez escapes when he’s returning from an appointment with a local dentist. Before he knows it, the hammer seems to be coming down hard on Marconi. Desperate to clear his name, Marconi goes out on own to find Vasquez and bring him back.
Did Vasquez have inside help? The two COs who accompanied him to the dentist provide conflicting stories. A discarded envelope in Vasquez’s cell provides a clue, but Marconi is arrested for obstruction of justice and withholding evidence when he asks a favor and has forensics done on a found gun, bullet casings and handcuff keys.
It turns out that a partnership involving corrections officers, prisoners and a dirty cop was selling drugs in/out of the prison, setting up Marconi as the unsuspecting key because signed the outside-visit releases.
With the help of his secretary Val, and Vasquez’s girlfriend Cassandra, Marconi devises a scheme that will clear his name.
The Innocent is a good read, the action is easy to follow, and the characters are well-developed. In his foreward, author Vincent Zandri confesses that The Innocent is actually a dozen years old and was originally published as As Catch Can in 1999. Tell you the truth … I’m glad he brought it back.
Amazon Kindle ebook ($.99 list)