Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Cut - cops, drugs and drama

The Cut: A Wolfe Novel
Peter Churchill
Publisher:  Rhubarb Triangle (ebook)  March, 2014
Sometimes even in the world of fiction, the good guys aren't the James Bond style mannequin that the bad guys never succeed in foiling.  Wolfe is a Detective Sergeant in the Eastern Area Drug Squad, and he's been in law enforcement for a long time, used to the complexities and uncertainties of finding and trapping drug dealers, but he's never seen anything like the challenges he's about to face.

There's something afoot, as they used to say in Sherlock's day.  Cocaine in huge quantities is being shipped into the country by a new, thoroughly competent and incredibly creative, drug king-pin named Simpson, one who enjoys danger and actively loves violence.

Wolfe's been divorced and has pretty much decided that work is the only life he's going to get to have.  His hard shell seems impenetrable until, during a drug bust, he meets Tina, the junkie girlfriend of Billie, a runner for Simpson.  As Wolfe and Tina are dropped into a maze-like game of cat and mouse in search of the brilliant but deadly Simpson, a kind of bond begins to develop, but is it real or is Tina playing him?  Nothing in the dark world of drug dealing is ever really what it seems to be.

This is an interesting book because it really gets into the weeds of the business of hunting drug dealers, complete with tricks and dodges to avoid capture, spy-vs-spy style anticipation of the villain's (or the cops') next move, and the nagging fear that it will all prove fruitless.  It has lots of fast-moving action sequences.  To catch this particular psychopath, "thinking outside the box" is not only recommended but required.  Wolfe has to use every bit of experience and instinct, and even then, this elusive trickster gets away over and over again.

There are some oddities for those of us across the pond, since what we know here as a "snitch" (informant) is known as a "grasser" there, and  a number of other British colloquialisms crop up that the American audience may not be familiar with, but the reader can usually sort it out based on context.

It could have used a bit more editing to catch a misspelling or two, but this book's got a lot more detail than many of the drug-war-based detective stories I've seen.  The author's time in law enforcement departments, including working with the DEA and the FBI,  is probably responsible for that.  The characters are memorable (if chilling at times), the dialogue moves naturally (not always that easy to accomplish) and the action , with new twists at every turn, keeps the reader turning the pages, trying to guess at what comes next. It's a hard book to put down.  If you like suspense and action, you'll enjoy it.

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