Kent (The Outcasts, 2013, etc.) introduces a tough and engaging new detective in this police thriller set in Dallas.
Betty Rhyzyk has transferred to the Dallas PD after beginning her career in Brooklyn, a move that requires pretty major adjustments, especially for an almost-6-foot-tall, red-haired Polish Yankee lesbian. At heart, Betty is just a really good cop, and when she’s on the front lines of a drug bust gone wrong, she quickly realizes, as the bodies stack up, that the mystery is much more sophisticated and far-reaching than it seems. The final twist that finds Betty captured and held prisoner becomes a bit overwhelming, but the mystery succeeds as both whodunit and as a deeper character-driven novel. Kent neatly balances the tough talk and high body count of a traditional hard-boiled detective novel, reminiscent of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, with the modern strength of this complex, flawed, and interesting woman. The rapport between Betty and her co-workers, her insecurities and love for her domestic partner, her memories of the New York cop uncle who inspired her to follow in his footsteps—every layer of this novel strikes the right note. And narrating it all is Betty herself, reflective, plainspoken, and alternately incredibly scared and incredibly brave. She knows how to take risks in her career, but can she balance that with a real private life, considering that the model provided by her own parents was dysfunctional in the extreme? Luckily, this seems to be the first in a series, so we’ll have a chance to find out.
Violent, sexy, and completely absorbing. Kent's detective is Sam Spade reincarnated—as a brilliant, modern woman.