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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

SVENGALI WITH A BADGE


Every writer loves to get a good review and cries in their spilled milk over a bad one. It's the way of the writing life...The most special reviews, however, come from readers who not only 'got' what the writer was trying to accomplish, but is also able to communicate it...
SVENGALI WITH A BADGE
LIE CATCHERS
BLACKIE NOIR
Jaded by the profusion of crime, mystery, suspense, and buddy police procedural novels out there? Well, Lie Catchers might very well be the shot in the arm you need to jar you from your torpor. There are hundreds of novelists cranking out police procedurals who are clueless (no pun intended) about actual police work, just as there are dozens of cop authors whose literary skills don’t transcend writing traffic citations. Rest assured, Paul Bishop doesn’t fall into either category. Bishop is a gifted, competent, talented novelist, with the rock-solid street cred attained through 35 years of service ith the LAPD -- first as a patrol officer, then as a high ranking detective. The man is real, as is his work.
 
Lie Catchers is a highly entertaining read that goes beyond the pall of most
contemporary crime / cop fiction. Strongly plotted, I found the backstory regarding the arcane Martin family, and Changeling, reminiscent of some of Ross MacDonald’s best Lew Archer novels in eerie tone and mood. Good as the plot (a cornucopia of psychological acrobatics) is, the dual protagonists, Ray Pagan and Calamity Jane Randall, give the novel its heart, soul, and life.

The narrative flows from the first person POV of Calamity Jane Randall, and easily lends access to her inner emotional status: that of a mildly bitter, pessimistic, confused, career cop at a crossroad of both life and career. She’s emotionally battered, physically damaged (severe gunshot wound), yet radiates a stubborn strength. I found her immediately likeable and highly appealing. You just know that once she finds herself she’ll be a force to be reckoned with. Calamity rocks!

Helping Calamity to find herself is her new partner / mentor Ray Pagan. Veteran detective. Superstar interrogator. Master manipulator. Hero to many of his peers, bane to many others, Pagan is a maverick, one who leads with nary a glance over his shoulder to see if anyone is following. A many faceted renaissance man (Derek Flint?), at first Pagan seems smug and overbearing. In Calamity’s early opinion, insufferable. But, as Pagan’s inner psyche is revealed, we find a compassionate, devoted, champion of and seeker of truth. By mid-book it’s easy to find yourself rooting for Pagan.

Both characters are well developed, and emotionally electric. If that’s not enough, turns out both Pagan and Randall are gifted (cursed?) with separate and unique sensory powers that enhance their ability to discern truth from fiction. This angle is skillfully, and subtly, woven into the narrative, never seeming overdone or too much of a stretch.

Lie Catchers is solid escapist literature, served up by a pro, and guaranteed to entertain. Highly recommended.

ADDENDUM: The two bonus non-fiction chapters, on Bishop’s first and last busts, alone are worth the very modest Kindle price.


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