Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “NYPD”

Bothari’s #CBR4 Review #54: Treachery in Death by J.D. Robb

J.D. Robb’s series about New York City homicide detective Eve Dallas is formulaic as hell, but this one reminded me why I’m still reading. It hit every single checkmark on my previously written bullet list, plus a couple I had forgotten, but it was still a fine read. In this one, Eve’s partner Peabody stumbled across a ring of corrupt cops, and the two have to work together with Internal Affairs to take down a wicked lady cop. There’s lots of trap-setting and secret-keeping, but I think what made the story more compelling was Eve’s new habit of self-reflection. She, the daughter of a horrible abusive jerk, survived and overcame her upbringing to make herself into the strong, worthwhile citizen that she is. The crooked cop, however, is the daughter of a retired police commander, who took her privileged upbringing and all her opportunities and used them to line her own pockets, quietly having anyone who got in her way (including cops in her own squad) bumped off. Eve sees their similarities and differences and reflects on how differently her life could have gone, and she takes a step back and sees how the people she has come to depend on have made her a better person and a better cop. Kind of smarmy, sure, but it’s a nice change from the usually tough-as-nails, “I’ll do this my way, on my own” detective. There’s not much a mystery to this one, since we know who the bad guy is right away, but it’s cool to watch them gather evidence and build the case without alerting any of the bad guys that they’re on to them.

Bothari’s #CBR4 Review #44: Fantasy in Death by J.D. Robb

J.D. Robb “X in Death” Drinking Game:

Drink every time:
• Mavis squeals
• Mavis wears something bright
• Peabody and McNab flirt and annoy Eve
• Dr. Mira makes Eve tea
• Dr. Mira wears something pastel
• Eve has a bad dream about her father
• Roarke gets growly and annoyed
• Reporter Nadine tries to get a story
• Butler Somerset says something condescending
• Hairdresser Trina bullies Eve into a haircut
• Eve mentions the office candy thief
• Eve fights with the vending machine

Every time I read one of these Eve Dallas books, I kind of wonder why. It’s the same book every time. It’s the same characters, the same character descriptions, the same set-up each time. The only thing missing from this book is her bouncer friend. And yet…I keep reading. Maybe there is a comfort in knowing exactly what you’re going to get, and the writing is good enough to keep me interested.

In case you haven’t read the 87 other books: Eve Dallas is a cop in New York City in the near future. The future part doesn’t really have much of an effect on the stories, except that they call sodas ‘fizzies.’ She’s a homicide detective married to an insanely rich reformed criminal, has a very likeable partner named Peabody, and always gets her man. In Fantasy in Death, the future part comes into play a little more, since the homicide victim was a video game designer who specialized in cutting-edge holographic technology. As always, Roarke is tangentially tied to the crime, and gets dragged in to provide his expertise. He and Eve investigate the victim’s three business partners, try to pin down the unusual murder weapon, and occasionally have wild monkey sex in their palatial mansion. You know, the uzh. The three business partners cause Eve to reflect on the nature of friendship and partnership, and she has softened some over the course of the series, so I guess there is a little bit of character development. It is nice to see her appreciate the people who love her; usually she’s all hard-boiled and gruff and businesslike.

Actual murder mystery part of the story: pretty good. Rest of the book: pretty much exactly the same as every other J.D. Robb book.

ElCicco#CBR4Review#16: The Gods of Gotham by Lindsay Faye

Set in 1845 New York City, The Gods of Gotham is a dark tale of the brutal murders of Irish child prostitutes set against the backdrop of an expanding city coming to grips with immigration (especially Irish Catholics), racism bigotry, the role and rights of women in society, religious zealotry and intolerance. TGOG also features the founding of the New York Police Department. Officers were known as “copper stars” for the badges they wore and were treated with derision and distrust.

Our hero, Timothy Wilde, is prodded into joining the force by his older brother Valentine, who is well known in the city for his involvement in the democratic party and for his work with the fire department. Faye really provides some fascinating history in this area. I had not known that the NYFD was a political organization used to sway voters to support democrats. Valentine and Timothy have a combative relationship. Val possesses many vices, including a morphine addiction, and the fact that he became a fire fighter angers Tim. Val and Tim became orphans due to fire, and a city fire in 1845 disfigured Tim and forced him to change his life plans. It’s Val who gets Tim a job on the police force when he has no other options, recognizing that Tim has skills that will be very useful for detective work — he speaks “flash”, which is a sort of street slang, and his previous job as a bartender helped him hone his skills as a listener and a reader of character.

Within his first week on the job, Tim encounters  9-year-old “kinchin mab” (child prostitute) Bird Daley, covered in blood and fearing for her life. Shortly afterward, the body of a boy, another kinchin mab, is found in a garbage can, with his chest carved open in the shape of a cross. Then, 19 more bodies similarly marked are found in shallow graves on the outskirts of town. Is this the work of an anti-Catholic zealot? Someone trying to discredit the democratic party, which is associated with the newly formed NYPD? A deranged lunatic? As panic and mob violence rise on the streets of New York, police commissioner Matsell puts Tim in charge of an unofficial investigation, making Tim New York’s first detective.

Faye did a lot of work to make her novel as historically accurate as possible. Each chapter begins with a blurb from a newspaper or tract of the time, usually highlighting the virulent anti-Irish/anti-Catholic sentiments of the period. In addition to the plight of Irish Catholics, she explores the world of African Americans, prostitutes, religious crusaders, and women. Two strong female characters are featured in TGOG: Mercy Underhill, daughter of a protestant minister, budding writer and doer of good works for the poor (no matter their religion, color, etc.), and love interest of Tim; and Silkie Marsh, the powerful madam of a house of prostitution which employs children, generous contributor to the democratic party, former love interest of Val, and a real snake-in-the-grass.

There’s not exactly a happy ending to this novel, although Tim does figure out what happened and why. Equally important, though, Tim learns some dark and hard truths about Val, Mercy and himself. It seems that Faye is setting readers up for a series featuring detective Wilde. I look forward to the next in the series, if there is to be one.

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