Frank Behr

Created by David Levien


Talk about your auspicious debuts…

Ostensibly a private eye procedural, author David Levien’s City of the Sun (2008) introduced aging but still formidable former Indianapolis cop FRANK BEHR, as he tried to track down twelve-year old Jamie Gabriel who’d been missing for over a year. But what this book really was was really a raw, painful study on grief and loss.

And Jamie’s parents, Paul and Carol Gabriel, weren’t the only ones hurting here–Frank himself was still haunted by the loss of his own young son in a tragic accident.

Suffice it to say that it wasn’t an easy read, either emotionally or narratively. The book was actually a relentless series of short, pointed jabs; brief, chronological snapshots of lives in freefall, and yet, despite the occasional rough spot author Levien gave us one of the most searing and haunting books to cross this genre in a while; a wide-ranging romp that may take us from a sleepy Indianapolis bedroom town to a grungy Mexican outpost, but never strays far from ground zero of the human heart.

Subsequent books in the series have already more than met expectations–but they’re not for the faint of heart. People get hurt in this series. Hurt bad. And in these books, hurt matters. It’s not just a glib adjective tossed in to achieve some designated quota of “grit,” or some consequence-free adolescent writerly strutting.

Now, how much more the big lug (Frank stands at 6’5,” weighs in at 240 pounds or so and once played football) can stand is open to debate, but I was more than ready to follow.

Fans of Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer or Declan Hughes’ Ed Loy would do well to check this series. But fans of Indianapolis’ other significant eye, the decidedly kinder, gentler Albert Samson, would do well to grab a few smelling salts before tackling Frank’s world. Highly recommended, particularly  for those who like their P.I.s with a little soul.


Turns out 2015’s Signature Kill, the fourth novel in the series, was the last one in the series. Already an established screenwriter with Brian Koppelman for numerous crime-tinged television and film projects, including Runaway JuryKnockaround Guys, Rounders and Ocean’s Thirteen, he’s apparently quit the book trade, to become TV writer and producer, known for The Girlfiend Experience and Billions.


  • “I’m a rabid follower of true crime stories, and after reading of the horrors of countless child abductions, a story about a missing boy and the toll it takes on his family lodged in my consciousness. After a long period of trying to figure out how to tell it, the Frank Behr character — a tough, damaged ex-cop with a dark past — walked onto the scene in my head and I began writing what became City of The Sun. I’d been an avid crime fiction reader since I was a kid. Chandler and Hammett, John D. MacDonald, Donald Westlake, Elmore Leonard, Lawrence Block, James Elroy and even the crime novels of Cormack McCarthy are among my favorites. They set the standard — which is a very literary one I believe — in the genre, and the one that I strive for in my books. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide if I belong in their company.”
    — Levien, when asked “What influenced you to write crime novels? Who were your inspirations?”


  • “One of the toughest, most gut-wrenching, and most believable suspense novels I’ve ever encountered. If David Levien pulled any punches, I was too dazed to notice.”
    — Lincoln Child
  • “…as unbearably real as it gets.”
    — The New York Times Book Review on City of the Sun
  • “One of the toughest, most gut-wrenching, and most believable suspense novels I’ve ever encountered. If David Levien pulled any punches, I was too dazed to notice.”
    — Lincoln Child on City of the Sun


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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