DONE WRONG, the fourth novel in Eleanor Taylor Bland’s Marti MacAlister series, takes the homicide detective back to the mean streets of her Chicago hometown in search of the truth about her husband Johnny’s death. Although she never accepted the official report that he committed suicide, she avoided asking questions about how he died because of difficulty coping with his death.
Marti attends the wake of an undercover cop she knew when she was on the Chicago force. The official report lists his death as a suicide. His widow believes he was thrown off the roof of a parking garage because he had mentioned Johnny’s name. She asks Marti how she coped with Johnny’s death and expresses the belief that the deaths are connected because her husband had told her ‘”someone had dropped Johnny’s name,”’ and shortly afterward, her husband supposedly jumped off the roof.
After talking with the widow, Marti thinks about Johnny and wishes
she could close her eyes and block out the memory of Johnny sprawled in that car. She hadn’t pictured the cemetery that way. Too many trees. There was no way he’d pick that place to die.
Finding out the truth is the only way for her to ease some of the pain of his death.
Marti meets secretly with Johnny’s partner DaVon because he doesn’t want anyone in the department to know he is talking to her, which is fine with her because she also doesn’t want anyone know yet that she is looking into the circumstances of Johnny’s death. DaVon’s claim that Johnny was meeting one of his snitches and told DaVon to stay near the car is not convincing because partners always watch each other’s back, and because of his experiences in Vietnam, Johnny would never meet anyone in a place surrounded by trees.
When DaVon is killed during a raid on a crack house shortly after his talk with her, Marti feels the three deaths are connected. Johnny knew something somebody in the police department didn’t want him to reveal, and the other two men knew Johnny.
Vik decides to help his partner after she tells him about her investigation into her husband’s death. Their supervisor allows them time off from investigating a fire that burned down a bar while the state is determining to which ethnic or racial group the bones found under the foundation belong.
Marti doesn’t expect to get any cooperation from the Chicago Police Department. However, to her surprise, a Black, female sergeant and team leader on the narcotic squad worried that the chief of the narcotic division wants to get rid of her offers her help. She also has seen some suspicious activities, such as drug dealers knowing when a raid is about to go down.
Marti discovers that she already possesses the most important clue: a deck of playing cards Johnny used to keep notes, which may explain why he was killed if she can crack the code.
DONE WRONG makes up for the lack of fast-paced action in Bland’s three previous novels. As if dodging bullets from an unknown attacker, Vik and Marti are also trapped in a burning house. The main action, however, involves a killer, self-named “Diablo,” stalking and killing several police officers on the narc squad who were involved in a raid that left one teenager dead and another teenager in jail for his murder.
In DONE WRONG, Marti continues to struggle with achieving a proper balance between being a mother and having a very dangerous job, one in which her husband and the children’s father was killed. The mother side becomes even more important on the anniversary of Johnny’s death. Although his sister Joanna seems to be handling it very well, Theo is having a tough time adjusting and doesn’t want talk about his father. Mother Marti knows she must get herself and her son through the ordeal, and believes knowing the truth about his death will help.