Monday, January 29, 2007

Officer Down

Officer Down won a 2006 Edgar award for "Best First Novel by an American Author." But, while the book has its moments, I found myself expecting more from it based on the award and all the good things that I heard about it beforehand.

Samantha Mack, a Chicago cop, finds herself battling many of her fellow policemen at her duty precinct, including those closest to her, as she slowly realizes just how dirty the group really is. Eventually she realizes that her very life is in danger and that she cannot tell the good guys from the bad guys.

Mack has plenty of personal problems that complicate the danger that she is in, and writer Theresa Schwegel does a good job of building a personal history and a believable personality for Mack. Unfortunately, Mack has so many personal flaws that, at times, it is almost difficult to root for her...having sex in the front seat of a Jaguar with a man with whom she had a fender-bender just so he won't go to the police about the accident is where her lack of personal character crossed the line for me. She always seems more than willing to use her physical charms as just another weapon, and, since this wasn't some campy James Bond novel, it made her much less of a sympathetic character to me. Schwegel was shooting for "gritty" when she wrote this one, and she succeeded according to the Edgar award people. But I'm not so sure.

I'm going to take a look at Schwegel's second novel, Probable Cause, but it appears that its plot is very similar to that of Officer Down, the story of another Chicago rookie cop being set up (this one is male) to take the fall for a murder. He has to prove his innocence while fighting a new batch of crooked Chicago cops. I hope that Theresa Schwegel is not a one-trick pony, and I'm surprised that her two novels have such similar themes.

Rated at: 3.0

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