Kane’s (The Amazing Adventures of Captain Infant and Superpatch, 2011) nonfiction account looks back at the career partnership of two Orange County, Calif., homicide detectives.
Detectives Mike “The Duck” Parrish and Terry Sharkowski, the eponymous damage control officer, have been partners on the California police force for years when Kane’s eventful, irreverent chronicle opens. On the surface, the pair are opposites: The Duck, a former high school coach, is abrupt, intuitive and often abrasive, while the DCO, a former Green Beret, is quiet, methodical and good at calming down the various people his partner upsets. The episodic narrative unfolds as the duo takes readers on an insider’s tour of busy, dramatic Orange County policing. There’s a surprising amount of intercollegiate cooperation and a large number of dead bodies, sometimes very nearly including the pair’s own; the book includes charts of the injuries both men sustained in the course of duty. At its heart, this is a collection of anecdotes—involving police dogs, warring gangs, murder victims and many fairly oblivious ordinary citizens—that have become highly polished over countless retellings. Several of the bigger cases are followed by surprisingly bland summaries (“Always try and get a feel for the person you are going to interview”), but the street smarts and human insight these partners accumulate over the years are winningly conveyed. Readers looking for hard-boiled TV-style police action will find plenty of it in these pages, much of it enlivened by Kane’s Mickey Spillane–like patter: “Broderson wasn’t able to get any statements due to the fact that Jackie boy had taken a good-sized hollow-point round right between the horns.” Readers will also be fascinated by the many black-and-white photos of murder weapons and blood-splattered crime scenes that appear throughout the text—alongside several cartoonish illustrations that subsequent editions would be better off without. The Duck himself, far more than his laconic partner, is the star of this story; nevertheless, the cooperative nature of real police work comes through admirably.
Fans of true-crime thrillers, police procedurals and office comedies will find much to enjoy.