The first-class police procedural is a rare thing indeed today, in both meanings of the word. This debut effort by Frederick Weisel qualifies right across the board.
A young woman’s body is found by a lake in Santa Rosa, California, and Eddie Mahler’s Violent Crimes team responds to the scene. Eddie suspects she was murdered by a man he was unable to arrest for two similar murders two years before, his team isn’t so sure, and his boss is concentrated on the optics of a quick arrest, preferably in front of the media.
This book has so much going for it, two particularly creepy villains (actually, make that four); scatty witnesses who take forever getting to the point or just want to beat up on the cops which only make you sympathize all the more with the poor cop taking their statements (the bird guy is so great); team members each with their own specialties and each fully realized individuals you can both love and hate just like real people (can’t believe Rivas didn’t assault Frames right there in the car). There is a scene with a female cop who has been a victim of harassment in the workplace and a woman who is a victim of spousal abuse that is gritty and heartbreaking and which isn’t just for effect, it also moves the plot along. The craft here is first rate.
Throughout the details of the investigation ring absolutely true, from the plodding pace in the beginning to the rush to resolution in the end. The American equivalent to Damien Boyd’s Nick Dixon series, and I can think of no higher praise.
Author and founder of Storyknife.org.