Summary and book reviews of Proving Ground by Peter Blauner

Proving Ground

A Lourdes Robles Novel, Book 1

by Peter Blauner

Proving Ground by Peter Blauner
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2017, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 6, 2018, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Gary Presley

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About this Book

Book Summary

A sweeping crime novel, an intricate story about the quest for redemption, and a vibrant portrait of contemporary New York City, all told in Blauner's singular voice.

Nathaniel Dresden never really got along with his father, an infamous civil rights lawyer who defended criminals and spearheaded protest movements. As an act of rebellion, Natty joined the U.S. Army and served in Iraq, coming back with a chest full of commendations and a head full of disturbing memories.

But when his father is found murdered near the peaceful confines of Brooklyn's Prospect Park, Natty is forced to deal with the troubled legacy of their unresolved relationship. He also has to fend off the growing suspicions of NYPD Detective Lourdes Robles, a brash Latina cop with something to prove, who thinks Natty might bear some responsibility for his father's death. Though truth be told, the list of people - cops and criminals - who wanted David Dresden out of the way is long. The search for answers leads Natty and Lourdes into an urban labyrinth where they must confront each other--and the brutal truths that could destroy them both.

1

A helicopter with a searchlight is hovering low over Prospect Park, its juddering hum reminding Lourdes of a man deciding how to respond to an insult.

As she approaches the Fifth Street entrance, she sees ambulance guys smoking cigarettes, in no big hurry to do anything. Yellow tape cordons off the bike lanes, a big crowd behind it already, bathed in flashes of blue, white, and red from the squad car lights. An exclusive nightspot for people you wouldn't want to party with: white-shirted supervisors, regular uniform cops, and detectives in off-the-rack suits.

On first glance, it looks like the unusual event they've shown up for is a vacant parking space in No-Park Slope. But then she sees the fleecy white and red clumps, which turn out to be feathers, trailing back toward the sidewalk. They lead past inside-out latex gloves, snipped rubber tubing, and a bent syringe to a body facedown near an elm tree, stuffing coming out through the ruptured stitching of a Canada Goose...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

A master of cranking the tension fires to the boiling point, Blauner holds the story together with a steel-framed, brick-clad narrative; misdirection and revelations on page after page. And he's a writer's writer, able to snap an image as clear as a Kodachrome – "the sun dabbling melted ore on the rippling surface of the East River" or Natty describing his father's briefcase as made from "equal parts of a 1930s football, Jack Dempsey's boxing gloves, and Clint Eastwood's face."   (Reviewed by Gary Presley).

Full Review Members Only (641 words).

Media Reviews

Booklist

The primary characters (including Brooklyn itself) are vividly drawn and compelling, and character drives the plot, which is convoluted but ultimately believable. Fine entertainment for crime-fiction lovers.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Blauner has crafted two strong and complex leads in Natty and Lourdes and given readers an intricate plot that never feels forced.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. A top-notch crime novel that avoids easy resolutions and is all the better for its unanswered questions.

Author Blurb Dennis Lehane
With Proving Ground, Peter Blauner continues to prove why he's one of the most consistently bracing and interesting voices in American crime literature. A beautifully written and relentlessly exciting thriller.

Author Blurb Richard Price
Over the last 25 years Peter Blauner has proven to be a master of the urban darkside, his crime novels suffused with a knowing compassion for the bottom dogs who live in the Minotaur's maze that is New York City. Proving Ground is one of his finest efforts.

Author Blurb Stephen King
Taut narration, spot-on dialogue, and sharply etched action sequences make this one a must read. I couldn't put the sucker down.

Author Blurb Michael Koryta
A new Peter Blauner novel is cause for celebration, and Proving Ground justifies the wait. This is a thoughtful, nuanced novel of crime and war and the human heart. Blauner's authentic and powerful writing is worthy of comparison to Richard Price and Dennis Lehane, and his story is coiled with emotional impact. Not to be missed.

Author Blurb Reed Farrel Coleman
Proving Ground is a startlingly powerful tale of lost lives and lost souls with a crackling crime drama at its core. No one understands the NYPD, the backroom politics of New York, nor the heart of the city like Blauner. No one.

Author Blurb Christopher Reich
Peter Blauner's first book in ten years, Proving Ground, is a showstopper. A tour-de-force of smart, gutsy, relentlessly entertaining storytelling that counts as one of the finest novels I've read in the past five years. Blauner has a painter's eye for detail, a playwright's ear for dialogue, and a film director's kinetic narrative vision. All combine to create a turbo-charged reading experience. Proving Ground is a masterpiece of contemporary fiction.

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Beyond the Book

Ten Facts about the New York City Police Department

NYPD LogoIn Proving Ground, Blauner's modern noir mystery, the colossus that is the New York City Police Department, one of the largest civil law enforcement entities in the world, is a supporting character in its own right.

Here are ten fascinating facts about the NYPD:

  1. NYPD has over 49,000 employees of which 34,000 are uniformed police officers serving a city of 8.4 million (about 42 officers for every 10,000 people). On a per capita basis this is slightly higher than Japan's capital city Tokyo which has a population of 12.3 million and 43,000 police officers. Compared to other US cities, Baltimore, Chicago, Newark, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. have proportionally more officers than the NYPD.

  2. With its motto Fidelis ad mortem (...

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