DRY FIRE by Catherine Lewis


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 Not a police novel, but a novel about a police officer: the making of a female cop in the Florida panhandle, courtesy of first-timer Lewis. Eight years as a paramedic handling the messiest kinds of cases have sent Abigail Fitzpatrick nearly around the bend. Now she's at the police academy, learning fingerprint identification, pursuit driving, streetside law (a nuisance), self-defense (no problem), and marksmanship (big problem), and fending off the attentions of officers who hate lesbians, as well as of officers who think they have just what it takes to straighten them out. Harassed because she's the new kid, because she's a woman, because she's gay, Fitz gets over her lover Makayla Kay's abrupt departure--bucking for sergeant, Makayla decided she couldn't make it with another woman as baggage--and grows the shell she needs to survive her rookie patrols and her unpredictable colleagues. In dozens of sharp vignettes--Fitz turns the volume down on a partying couple who'd like to get her involved, returns a dead cat to its owner, and frets over not hitting the convenience-store-robber-cum-rapist she fired on--author Lewis, herself a cop and former emergency medical technician, shows her dumping peanuts into her soft drinks to get some solid nourishment, popping Rolaids like candy, and growing into the world's toughest job. Not so her buddy Tony Morelli, who gets into trouble while he's still in the academy, begs Fitz to lie to Internal Affairs after he beats a suspect, and ends up needing more help than even she can give him. But apart from Morelli's woes and Fitz's sex life--from hovering, noncommittal Makayla to tremulous rape victim Jenny--there's not much momentum here: The book works better as a mosaic of great snapshots than as a sustained narrative. Except for the story itself, though, every gritty detail is perfectly in place.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-393-03835-1
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1995