I lost track of Dianne Emley. I read her debut novel, The First Cut(2006) several years ago and thought it was very good but violent but not gratuitously so. Still reads well today after a quick re-read. Engaging voice with an immediate hook into the story about a vice cop lured to the dark side and then goes missing.
This is a police procedural set in California that follows Pasadena PD officer, Nanette Vining. She returns to work after a year’s absence. She survived a brutal assault on the job where she flat-lined for two minutes and then “jolted awake.” The experience left her with panic attacks and gave her the added, unwelcome psychic ability to hear the dead speak. The author uses those scenes sparingly and managed to make it creepy.
The attacker eluded capture and is still at large. Nanette and her daughter live in fear of his return to finish the job and Nan makes sure she’s ready. Meanwhile, her daughter has this morbid fascination with ghosts and death. She calls him “T.B. Mann” aka The Bad Man. Nan vows revenge and her ex-partner/lover, Jim Kissick, hands her the case files on her assault case. Clearly an ethical issue there. Since she’s found unfit to work homicide by her superiors, Nan is assigned robbery. That gig doesn’t last long. The victim was the daughter of another revered cop, so Nan gets handed the case based on her reputation as a solid cop.
Aside from Nan’s personal life, she takes on the case of the murdered police woman, whose body was dumped by a bridge. The plot indulges in the seedier side of life. The nightclub scene with a villain who regularly assaults women. But he hides in plain sight, managing to blend into his surroundings. The story incorporates the usual police politics and bureaucracy that often derails or hinders cases. I thought those scenes were well done and brought to mind one of my favorite TV shows, The Wire.
The ending was the weakest part of the story, unfortunately. It almost devolved into comical nonsense. After rereading it I still find it weak but unusual. No confessions, just straight shoot-out. There wasn’t a need to explain anything. It certainly isn’t your typical ending so I guess that says something. Ms. Emley has since went on to write several sequels that are out now digitally and at reasonable prices. In fact this e-book is priced at $3.99 for those who have an interest. My grade is still the same, a B. I hope to read the sequel sometime this year. The author has an engaging voice.
Note: This was reviewed elsewhere (my old blog)