After six cases for educational consultant Thea Kozak (Liberty or Death, 2003, etc.), Flora produces a police procedural starring a Maine cop almost as tough as Thea.
Sgt. Joe Burgess is Portland’s meanest cop, so he’s perfect for heading the investigation into the death of Dr. Stephen Pleasant, found in his car on a bitter cold night with his pants unzipped and his throat impaled by a steel rod. Dr. Pleasant’s fondness for the company of prostitutes promises to turn the case as blue as his skin. When his colleagues at Pine State Radiology stonewall the most routine questioning and the long-suffering widow’s old-money father warns that the police had better shield his little girl from the tawdry details, it’s obvious that only Portland’s meanest cop will have the guts to keep pushing. Even so, Burgess isn’t all that mean. Sure, he attacked a hated superior years ago for torpedoing his case against a murderous, well-connected child-molester—a case that still haunts Burgess. But he’s too sensitive to believe the whoppers he’s told about the good doctor’s personal and professional life, too resilient to be sidelined by beatings and shootings and too noble to yield his virtue to Alana Black, a hooker with the hots for him.
Even though Burgess’s meanness is well within normal limits for the genre, his passionate work here earns him a year’s leave—most of it no doubt devoted to physical therapy.