Quercus/Murdoch Books, April 2007
Reviewed by Sally Roddom
Samantha (Sam) Mack is a cop. She drinks hard, chain smokes and is having
an affair with a fellow officer, who just happens to be married. She is
also accused of shooting dead her partner, Fred, during an arrest gone
Fred and Sam go into a house to apprehend a child molester called Marko
Trovic. Without waiting for back up they enter the dark house. Shots are
fired and Sam is knocked unconscious. When she regains consciousness she
is told that Fred is dead. Shot by her gun. Sam knows she didn’t do it.
Her memories are hazy but she remembers firing her gun until it was empty
– and Fred was still alive at that point. The Police Department just want
to write it off as a tragic accident – but Sam knows she is innocent and
wants to prove it. Her lover, Homicide Detective Mason Imes, is assigned
to the case and he keeps her informed of progress. Not satisfied that he
is making it a priority, she starts her own investigation.
The story is narrated by Sam. It moves along at a fast pace, with many
twists, turns and double-crosses in the plot. However, I never felt much
empathy for Sam; in fact I downright disliked her. I couldn’t get past the
fact that Sam was having an affair with a married man without feeling the
slightest bit of guilt. Could this happen in real life, a woman is so
obsessed with a man that she throws caution and morals out of the window?
Sure it could – but I found it morally difficult to overlook this, which
affected my enjoyment of the book. The saving grace is that I found it to
be a well written story, a really gripping read, with great tension and a
satisfactory resolution. The characters were well portrayed, and despite
my personal opinion about her morals, there was some growth in Sam’s
character by the end of the book.
OFFICER DOWN was the winner of the 2006 Edgar Award for Best First Novel,
and was short listed for the Anthony Award for Best First Novel. An
excerpt of Theresa Schwegel’s recently released second novel, PROBABLE
CAUSE, is found at the end of this book.
May 2007 review originally published on Murder & Mayhem
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