Monday, August 11, 2014

Of cops and robbers and more

I've read four very different police novels this week, and their differences convince me that categories really wouldn't have helped me know if I'd enjoy them or not. They're all about cops. Two might be called police procedurals (but they're still radically different from each other). One's a romantic suspense (two genres in one already), and one's pretty close to horror. But one's a contemporary drama too, and all four look at relationships, and... well, you get the picture.

Anyway, here are four book reviews, all about cops and robbers and more... Enjoy the coffee too, but watch out for donuts. I hear they're fattening even when cops eat them.

Unnatural Murder, by Connie Dial, contains all the elements of a classic police procedural. The protagonist is a captain--and a woman, which maybe changes the genre a little. Her home life's falling apart, but she cares, especially about her now-grown son, and she's trying to make the right decisions. She's a woman in a man's world, startled by her son describing his father as more "womanly" because he's been known to cry. And the transsexual victim is very much a man in a woman's world. With issues of identity (as mother, wife, captain, and more) at its center, and serious questions about how parenting defines or destroys those issues, this is a well-crafted serious literary mystery, best enjoyed with some well-brewed, elegant, complex 4-star coffee.

Buzz Words, by Doug Lucas, has the same convincing procedural feel, but a very different protagonist in its retired ex-marine video and classic car devotee. Told in first person, the voice rings so authentic I want to drink more coffee and listen to more stories by story's end. Curmudgeonly, cool, honest and wise, he's a good guy, and this cruel series of murders demands a good resolution. Enjoy with some bold dark intense 5-star coffee, but be prepared to smile and laugh out loud at times with match-making and teasing dialog so perfectly rendered.

Kathy Clark's After Midnight (part of her Denver After Dark series) is classic romantic suspense with a pleasingly human policeman protagonist, set in a world where bullets really hurt, even when they hit bullet proof vests. The characters feel very real. The dialog's great. And the mystery's simply enough to keep readers' interest without confusing. Nice romance too. Enjoy with a well-balance full-flavored 3-star coffee.

And finally, The Sorrow, by Azhar Lorgat, offers a much darker view, both of the world and of police life. A sometimes uneasy blend of old gangster noir with modern cop show, the result has echoes of Batman under its dark dehumanizing cloak of violence. Its heavy with introspection, gore and misery, but a thread of hope carries it along. Have some bold dark intense 5-star coffee to hand when you read it.

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