Gritty portrait of life in the North Carolina Highway Patrol. Bartlett, a free-lance writer, mostly lets the troopers and their wives do the talking here, serving up large verbatim slabs of adventure on the road. She begins with the words of paradigmatic trooper Louis B. Rector, a sensitive, stubborn man who entered the force on his third try, was shot three times by a prison escapee in 1984, and remains in uniform today, saying ""I still like being a trooper. In fact, I can't think of anything else I'd rather be."" Most of his colleagues echo his sentiments, which may account for the fierce competition to fall the few open slots at Basic Training School despite low pay, long hours, and ever-present danger. It's a truly hazardous job--troopers talk here about gun fights, fist fights, knife fights, and broom fights, while Bartlett tells the gripping stories of three officers slain in separate incidents in 1985. The cops and their families jaw about emotional strains, too: female troopers asserting themselves in a male province, trooper wives trying to handle fear and loneliness. There's humor as well, mostly in the form of strange encounters--one trooper runs up against a guy in a Dracula outfit, blood dribbling from his mouth--and sex, in equally strange encounters between troopers and ""badgers""--women who roam the highways looking for uniformed love. Nothing much new here, and the loose mosaic could have used more editorial glue, but an informative read nonetheless.