Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dirty Harry has a sister!

"Calumet City" by Charlie Newton, a novel nominated for an Edgar Award for the best first mystery.
Patti Black has survived a horrid childhood. Her parents died in an auto accident and she was placed in a children's home where she was raped numerous times before escaping at age 16.
After a few career turns, Patti joins the Chicago Police Department and becomes one of the most decorated cops on the force.
Her unit is assigned to go on a raid to recover stolen merchandise in a seedy section of the city.
When they order the occupants to open the door, the police are met with machine gun fire. Patti returns fire, killing two members of a street gang called the Gangster Disciples.
To show Patti's grit, she goes to the station, files her report, goes home, changes and goes out to practice with her rugby team. "Go ahead, make my day."
A body is found in the basement of the building and this opens the door to the foster home where Patti had been abused.
There is an attempt on the mayor's life. If the mayor is killed, the next person in line to take his place is black alderman Leslie Gibbons. Fearing that the attempt on the mayor might be racially motivated, the superintendent of police asks Patti to go into the black community and try to gage the temperament of the people.
Patti does her job but at the end of the day when she sees the mother of one of the boys Patti shot, Patti tries to offer the woman her condolences but Patti gets in trouble with one of the black politicians.
The newspapers support Patti as a hero but soon afterward she leans that there is a hit on her.
We learn that she has a child and Patti thinks that the hit is coming from Roland Ganz, the man who raped her and fathered her son.
Newton tells a rapid fire story with no holds barred. There are gruesome details of people getting killed, with plot twists as Patti learns more of what happened to Roland Ganz after she ran away from the foster home.
We follow a trail to Arizona and a commune that has recently been vacated and there Patti learns that she is the owner of this land. Patti is stunned and thinks it is some sort of scam that Roland Ganz is pulling in order to get to her and her son.
This is an action packed story that is lengthy and a bit complicated. Patti's childhood explains her hard nosed attitude and it is somewhat exciting to see her in action.
A recommended book.

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