Email this review


Not a police novel, but a novel about a policeman--Oliver ""Triphammer"" Bodley, first introduced in the more routinely plotted Bluebird Canyon (1982). What plot is here concerns Triphammer's midlife crisis--his difficulties with his son Dick, a smart kid who refuses to consider college and keeps getting drunk and bending the family fenders; the mounting pressures of Triphammer's job as he deals with suicides, domestic disputes, drugs, vandalism, and the occasional inconsequential homicide; his constant struggle with the bottle; his slapstick-funny attempts to distance himself from his aspiring romantic partner, Judy Cook; and his cautiously redemptive affair with much younger schoolteacher Sydney. Trip's reflections on the problems of being a cop are pedestrian, and his interludes of literary criticism (Sydney teaches literature and film) sound as if he's reading from cue cards, but McCall keeps his understated plot--which takes some getting used to; you keep expecting things to develop or hang together in a way they never do--ambling along with nice touches of loopy humor (an especially effective scene presents Trip's disastrous double date with Sydney, her friend Julie Katzen, and a young cop named Ted Vandermark), and you'll probably be glad when Trip joins AA, gets pushed for the chief's job, and gives Sydney his grandmothers ring. A minimalist police-story--scruffy, relaxed, and as comfortable as an old pair of bedroom slippers.

Pub Date: Jan. 24th, 1989
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly--dist. by Little, Brown