AUSTIN CITY BLUE by Jan Grape
Five Star, 2001
When female police officer Zoe Barrow shoots a man to rescue another officer, she is merely doing her job. When she learns that he is the criminal whose earlier shot turned her husband into a vegetable, she feels a sense of closure rather than regret. But the shooting is only the beginning of a strange and violent events in Zoe's life. One of her snitches is killed, a friend of her husband's claims that his wife is trying to kill him, and Zoe starts feeling a strange attraction toward a private detective. When the possibility of police corruption comes up, Zoe doesn't know who her friends are and who might be her enemies.
Talented author Jan Grape explores the continuing prejudice against female cops, the emotional implications of a justified shooting, and writes a bang-up action story as well. As readers, we're dragged along with Zoe, thrust deep into the mystery, and thrown clues so fast that it's hard to sort out what's important and what isn't. Bits of the history of Austin, Texas's police force add some texture to the story and put Zoe's current job into its historical perspective.
I would have enjoyed a little more focus. Some of the events appeared to be either unconnected or connected by coincidence that stretch beyond normal reader credibility. Thanks to Grape's superior story-telling, these flaws don't detract much from novel's enjoyment, except to hint that Grape's next novel may be even better.
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