Random Acts of Malice

Fiction - Mystery - Murder
284 Pages
Reviewed on 08/30/2014
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Random Acts of Malice is a police procedural written by George R. Hopkins. Cindy Waters was an intermediate school teacher in Staten Island. She was rushing off to school after attending mass in her local church when a truck drove at her, catapulting her body through the air. Her assailant dragged her into an alley, inserted an ice pick into her ear and then proceeded to drive his truck over her body. Father Bennis, hearing of the accident, rushes off to administer the last rites, and he believes that he recognizes her from mass that morning. As he's discussing her identity with the police, Bennis notices a older man in a combat jacket who is staring at him, and he seems disturbingly familiar.

George R. Hopkins' mystery novel, Random Acts of Malice, is a well-plotted and entertaining police procedural. Father Bennis is a complex and complicated character whose past black-ops work with the military had him working alongside others who relished the work that they were doing. His unofficial partnership with his brother, Detective Tom Cavanaugh, as they try to track the killer, is a joy to watch. Hopkins builds a credible accounting of the steps the police take in solving and preventing murders. The foe they're chasing is not what he seems; however, behind each player in the field is another shadowy figure directing the action. There's also a strong legal thriller in Random Acts of Malice as the attempts to get Judge Abbruzza to resign seem strongly related to the murders taking place. Random Acts of Malice is fast-paced and exciting, and the New York City and Staten Island venues ramp up the tension and add to the reader's enjoyment. It's highly recommended.

Julia Hopkinson

Random Acts of Malice is the second book by George R. Hopkins to feature Detective Tom Cavanaugh, following Letters from the Dead in 2013. It is a mystery thriller set in the neighbourhood of Tottenville on Staten Island, New York City. There is a killer stalking the streets and people appear to be be targeted at random. At the same time, a local judge, Carlo Abbruzza, receives a letter from an inmate at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women warning him that a fellow inmate has threatened to kill him and hired a hit man to do the job. Abbruzza turns to his old friend Cavanaugh for help, who starts to suspect that the two cases are linked. As the body count rises, his quest to protect the Judge becomes entwined with the case of the serial killer and it appears that someone close to the judge is involved in both.

Random Acts of Malice is a very enjoyable book. George R. Hopkins’ plot is complex and includes a large, wide-ranging cast of characters; sometimes I found the sheer number of names being mentioned a bit overwhelming however, and on a few occasions it was difficult to remember who was who. Cavanaugh is a dogged, if not exactly likeable, character and his brother, Father Jack Bennis, is particularly well drawn. The killer is scary and chilling and the other bad guys are a menacing bunch! After an intriguing first few pages, I did think the story took a while to get going again, but once it hits its stride, it is an exciting and compelling twist-filled ride!

Samantha Rivera

Something strange is going on in Tottenville. First a young woman is killed on her way home after church, and then a second woman is killed in an apparently gang-related drive-by shooting. The bodies are piling up and so are the theories. The bodies are all connected to one single case, a case that they've actually been told is the reason for everything. Now it’s up to Detective Cavanaugh to find out what’s happening and how he can stop it before it’s too late. But when you’re racing against a man who has nothing to lose, there are always a few obstacles in the game. Random Acts of Malice by George R. Hopkins is no exception to that rule.

Detective Cavanaugh is the type of cop that any of us would want on the case. He’s dedicated and he’s loyal. He has integrity and truly believes in doing the best job he can. That’s what makes him the perfect character for this book. Being able to see into the minds and thoughts of the ‘bad guys’ really helps draw you into the action (and there is plenty of action). No one is who they seem to be and even the least likely of characters has a hidden secret. There’s no end to the surprises in Random Acts of Malice by George R. Hopkins and no end to the adventures of each of its characters. The people at the top of the chain aren’t just looking to help some low-level criminal get revenge on the ones who put her away after all; there’s something darker at play.

Paul Johnson

It all starts when a criminal judge receives a letter from a female prisoner, telling him of a death threat another prisoner has made on his life since he was the presiding judge in her conviction of the manslaughter of a ten-month-old child. The judge isn't sure what to make of it and asks an old friend from his childhood, now a homicide detective, to investigate. The detective decides to help his old friend even though the crime is not in his district. After a preliminary investigation, he believes it may be nothing when the investigation shows the letter writer has a history of fraud and the woman who made the threats denies everything.

Then, everything changes when the other people involved with the conviction begin to die at the hands of a brutal murderer. The detective and his Jesuit priest brother begin a hunt for the murderer and also the person who hired him. The priest, with a dubious background, thinks he knows the killer, an evil remorseless man who once left him for dead. As the mystery unfolds, more and more people die. Can the detective and the priest stop this ruthless killer before he finishes his mission? The judge certainly hopes so.

I found Random Acts of Malice by George R. Hopkins to be an very well written mystery-detective adventure. The author has put together a good, diverse cast of characters, particularly a former Special Operations soldier, now a Jesuit priest, and his long time homicide detective brother. The plotting was good and moved rapidly along. The dialogue was spot on and a perfect fit for each character. I enjoyed it very much.

Natasha Jackson

When you begin to read the first few pages of Random Acts of Malice, you know that author George R. Hopkins has prepared a thrill ride for you. A woman, Cindy, is rushing from Mass to teach a class of young children when she is brutally murdered. Just from that, I was already hooked. We meet several different characters, all of whom have their own sets of problems and demons, and added to that is the fact that someone is gunning for some of them. Initially the threat is against Judge Carlo Abbruzza over a case involving the death of a small child. The judge calls his old friend Detective Cavanaugh to help. Cavanaugh finds that not all is what it seems and the hardened and sleep-deprived detective is suspicious. The letter writer, Letitia, has a history of fraud which makes the case even more confusing … until people related to the conviction start getting killed.

George R. Hopkins did a fantastic job weaving this story together. It isn’t a ‘whodunit’ but it definitely leaves you guessing. The supposedly wrongly convicted woman, Tammy, is vengeful, but possibly mentally ill and seemingly incapable of the violence taking place in her name, and thus another layer gets peeled back. Random Acts of Malice reads like a perfect detective novel with multiple characters whose stories all intersect somehow, but not in the ways we initially think. As the truth behind the murders slowly unravels, we find out there is much more to these crimes, which makes the killer seem both more brutal and cunning all at once. Nearly every page is action packed in a way that contributes to the storytelling and I was hooked from beginning to end.

Bob von Doussa

I have read George Hopkins three previous award winning thrillers and I believe Random Acts of Malice to be his best to date. From the opening pages of book1 when Cindy Waters is brutally murdered in the most savage of ways the writer never loses your attention. Action packed from start to finish once started the book is hard to put down. You are kept guessing as the plot unfolds with the unpredictable ending having you hoping the Jesuit priest will survive for more adventures with his detective brother in George Hopkins next thriller.