Officer Down by Theresa Schwegel
The Particulars: Mystery/Suspense, St. Martin's Minotaur, 2005, Out of print but available digitally.
Why Was It In Wendy's TBR?: First released in hard cover, Officer Down won Schwegel the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. So when it was slated to come out in mass market, her publisher printed up more ARCs for it - which is how I got one when the St. Martin's library rep paid a visit to my office.
The Review: You know why some think women are stupid? Because it turns out, many of us are. No really, we are. That's the formula for this novel, which features a female cop who somehow has not managed to shoot herself with her own gun....yet. Seriously, a duffel bag full of rocks shows more brain power than Samantha "Smack" Mack.
Sam wasn't even supposed to work that night. She was at home, waiting for her married lover to return her phone call. Instead she ends up going into work when the resident hypochondriac cop calls in sick. She's riding around with her ex-partner Fred, when they get a tip from a snitch that a Very Bad Man they've been looking for has resurfaced. They storm into the building, only to walk into a trap. Fred ends up dead, Sam ends up concussed, and those investigating the crime scene chalk it up to "friendly fire." A tragic accident since it was Sam's gun that delivered the fatal bullet.
This is one of those books where the author literally drops you in the middle of everything with very little lead time. It's also a very plot-driven story, and the character development, such as it is, is fed to the reader in drips and drabs. Sort of like quenching your thirst from a leaky faucet. It makes for a very detached reading experience for the majority of the story, which is a neat trick since the thing is written in first person. Feeling "detached" while reading first person takes some doing folks.
But the story is told well, and I kept flipping the pages to find out what happened to Fred, even though Sam is the sort of character I want to throw heavy objects at. I tend to adore self-destructive characters in crime fiction. The more screwed up they are, the more I tend to like them. But Sam isn't just screwed up, no she's also an idiot. Which just makes it hard to give a flying crap about the fact that she's obviously being framed. She runs around like a loose cannon. She won't talk to a shrink. She won't talk to Internal Affairs.
That's ultimately my problem with this book. Sam is just too much of an idiot for me to care about what happens to her. I don't care that someone is framing her, because she's too stupid to see the obvious smacking her in the face. But, like I said, it's a well-told story. It's well-written, I kept flipping the pages, and I had to find out how it was all going to turn out in the end. Even with a heroine that was a few fries short of a Happy Meal.
Final Grade = D+