OFFICER DOWN
Theresa Schwegal

 


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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 wrong.

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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