The narrative seems almost formulaic: A disgraced cop seeks redemption. His brother, also a detective, tries to rescue him. A sociopathic killer uses superhuman guile to slaughter ruthlessly. Throw in a troubled marriage and a femme fatale and what you have is Minneapolis mystery writer Allen Eskens' second novel, "The Guise of Another."
For all its predictability, the story Eskens crafts about Minneapolis detective Alexander Rupert's race to restore his good name moves fast enough to keep you turning pages until suddenly you're at the end and, if not exactly blown away, certainly not disappointed.
Alexander's troubles seem partly ripped from Star Tribune headlines. He and other members of a fictional police task force who stand accused of stealing contraband from criminals bear strong resemblances to those on a real Twin Cities task force charged with the same thing.
Alexander and his squeaky clean brother, Max, may be the guys you're rooting for. But the fellow who drives the plot is coldblooded Drago Basta, an assassin without conscience trying to recover some computerized proof of corporate corruption, which Alexander hopes to use to restore his ruined reputation.
This book is not as creatively cast as Eskens' debut novel, "The Life We Bury," which featured a college kid trying to keep up with classes and a new romance while freeing an innocent man, dealing with his substance-abusing mother and caring for his developmentally disabled brother.
Instead of heroism, "The Guise of Another" uses crime and violence to lure readers on a wild journey toward a climax that is not so much resolution as breathless exhaustion.
Jim Spencer is a Star Tribune Washington correspondent.