Broken Allegiance is the first in the Tom Kagan series by Mark Young. It follows a hard-nosed detective in the Santa Rosa Police Department who specializes in gangs. While trying to tie down a witness to break up a notorious gang, Kagan’s sometimes aggressive and reactionary decisions bring consequences following in their wake. Broken Allegiance brings you inside the police force, the gang system in and outside of prison, and glimpses of relationships stretched to their max.
What’s most interesting about the story is it’s predominant base in reality. Young is a retired police officer of the Santa Rosa Police Department, having served for 26 years. This background gives Young the ability to populate his story and Kagan’s point-of-view with significant detail and perspective. Although Young has published three previous novels before Broken Allegiance, this book was actually his first. It sat on the proverbial shelf until Young’s wife prompted him to publish it. However, this is ultimately the book’s biggest fault.
The story suffers from clunky and cliché dialogue at times (and the Kindle I read actually has some punctuation and grammatical errors – which can be forgiven as possible errors from the digital translation), but those tend to be marks of first-time authors. Despite the sometimes cliché dialogue and formulaic circumstances (a few moments of good cop-bad cop and the fiery subordinate yelling at his boss) the novel is ultimately a fun read. Young does have a very good sense for writing action and it’s during these passages that the book flies.
Young also developed a good villain – a gang member named Ghost. Ghost is ruthless, violent and lacks a shred of moral or ethical conduct. He’s the clear antithesis to the moral compass that is Kagan. The build-up to the climax is well done and would translate well to film, although it felt like the climax of the book lacked the emotional impact that it had created expectations for.
With all that said, if you’re a fan of crime-fiction than Broken Allegiance is absolutely worth hunting down. It’s a quick, but enjoyable read and should be fun to see where Young will take Kagan in future stories.
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