HIGH-HEEL BLUE by Diane K. Shah


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 A made-for-TV plot and other gratuitous, film-me-please Hollywood teasers lend a sour taste to a true-blue police procedural about a gung-ho female cop on the trail of (what else?) a serial killer. Crime novelist Shah (Dying Cheek to Cheek, 1992), co-author of Darryl Gates's nobody-knows-the-trouble-I've-seen memoir (Chief: My Life in the LAPD, not reviewed), puts her police knowledge to competent use in describing the bureaucratic conflicts thwarting LAPD Metro Officer Brenden Harlow's pursuit of a mad slasher who preys on pretty women at ATMs. The heat is on to catch the killer, and Harlow finds herself recruited as a decoy. Though she hates using her movie-star looks to catch crooks, she puts on high heels and gets a custom-designed garter-belt holster that will hide a pistol beneath her short, short skirt. More bored than threatened, Harlow decompresses at the local cop bar, where she dodges pickup lines from male and female officers while knocking back Black Russians and trying not to think about the problems in her marriage to the fatuous if handsome Jack Hayes, the star of a TV cop show. The delightful, possibly comic ironies implicit in such a relationship aren't explored--instead, Shah does a twist on the standard spouse-who-doesn't-understand-my-job, with Hayes acting soft, sensitive, and sexually frigid unless his wife handcuffs him to the bed. But Harlow doesn't have much time for such bedroom antics as she scrambles after sexist security guards, loathsome members of her own department, and other variously shaded red herrings typecast more from cop dramas than the mean streets that officers like Harlow are supposed to know. The killer, eager to add Harlow to the list of victims, finally goes one-on-one with her. On balance, then, a crisply written series opener seemingly Hollywood-aimed, with enough cop lore to interest, though not win over, fans of classic police procedurals.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-81431-5
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1996