Ken Bruen novels are inhabited by a few (very few) good cops, a whole bunch of “bent” ones, and a few brutal criminals who happen to wear police badges while committing their crimes. His is a violent world in which criminals and cops compete on an even playing field – rules and rights, be damned. A White Arrest, the first book in Bruen’s White Trilogy, is a prime example of that world.
London’s Chief Inspector Roberts and Detective Sergeant Brant do not do things by the book. On the good cop/brutal cop spectrum, they are much closer to being characterized as criminal cops than as good cops. But, despite their wild-man tactics, they are not particularly effective at solving crimes. Consequently, their jobs are often on the line. They badly need a “white arrest,” - the high profile arrest of a criminal whose crimes have caught the imaginations of the public – if they are ever to have any real job security.
Brant, the book’s main character, abuses his police power so badly that he has long forgotten how to make a legal arrest. He physically abuses suspects, takes bribes when he can get them (and steals cash laying around crime scenes when he hopes no one is looking), runs a liquor store tab he has no intention of ever paying, and is not above stiffing the pizza delivery guy on occasion. But all that makes him the perfect cop to stop the murderers terrorizing two very different segments of the London population.
A White Arrest is Ken Bruen at his wildest – and that is really saying something. Reading this one is like reading under a bright strobe light as Bruen presents one short scene after another in such rapid succession that it is often difficult to determine which character is speaking – or, for that matter, even involved in the segment. But, frustrating as this approach often is, it works well to set the tone of the dual investigations that take on lives all their own.
Roberts and Brant, like them or not, are a forced to be reckoned with in their patch of southeast London. Criminals beware.
(Review Copy provided by Publisher)