LAPD veteran Dial’s debut uncovers a web of sex, narcotics and blackmail in the law-enforcement hierarchy.
When a pretty young cop turns up dead in the trunk of a car outside the LAPD deputy chief’s home, Sgt. Mike Turner of Internal Affairs quickly discovers that the two were having an affair. Indeed, Jim McGann wasn’t Alexandra Williams’s only lover by a long shot. Turner’s peregrinations into the seedy lives of officers and civilians connected to Williams reveal that she was cop by day, party girl by night, and was further involved in a venture that for a fee introduced policemen to women. Reluctance on the administration’s part to look too closely into a senior officer’s indiscretions or to expose its shortcomings to the media impedes Turner. Despite orders that he concentrate on his internal-affairs investigation rather than the homicide itself, he steps out of bounds to track shadowy personalities who sketch for him a circle of prostitution, widespread drug abuse and blackmail within the department. It becomes clear that his case isn’t going to have the cut-and-dried solution demanded by his superiors; Turner must step carefully as he inches ever closer to the killer. Making good fictional use of her experience, the author also comfortably fulfills the requirements of noir tradition, wielding meat-fisted phrases as a brandy-soaked Turner prowls the Hollywood underworld. He’s forced into deviance and deception to evade detection by ill-intending agents, who may include powerful members of the LAPD hierarchy. Jaded by department politics and scarred by the loss of a former partner, Turner takes a gamble that may well destroy his career and his relationship with a fellow cop. The mystery and its solution aren’t as compelling as the drawn-from-life office politics and procedures. Those, in turn, are more realistic than the burnt-out cops, jive-talking pimps and other clichéd characters that are merely par for the course in this landscape.
A tough potboiler with swagger to spare.