A Summer Inside an LAPD Homicide Division
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 A summer spent in the trenches with detectives from the LAPD. Corwin, a Los Angeles journalist, decided to spend the summer of 1994 in South Central L.A. with detectives investigating the area's extremely high murder rate. He joined the team of Marcella Winn, a new detective who has been paired with Pete Razanskas, a 20-year LAPD veteran. Winn, who is black and from South Central, shows exceptional promise, and Razanskas is to guide her over the next months until she is ready to be a full-fledged detective. Corwin drops out of the prose completely as he seamlessly reports the team's growing number of murder cases, their greasy-spoon breakfasts, and the surprising strength of this partnership. The Lithuanian/Venezuelan Razanskas is an unlikely hero: He chews tobacco, he's unapologetically crude, and he spends all his free time hunting. But he's a genius with suspects, can cajole even the most reluctant witness into testifying at trial, and is a superior teacher. As the summer progresses, the murders pile up, the great majority of them pointless: The victims cooperate with their attackers but are shot anyway, frequently in front of their young children. Corwin spends time with the victims' families, too, and in one tragic scene visits a therapy group for victims of black-on-black crime. The book perfectly captures Winn's growing authority as a detective, Razanskas's frustration with endless paperwork, and the way the rest of the multiracial squad works in the shadow of Rodney King and O.J. The taint of racism in the LAPD lingers--Winn tells of a white colleague whose idea of dressing for vice squad was wearing a UCLA shirt and a ponytail; the ponytail later got a promotion over the no-nonsense Winn. Haunting and thrilling, this is a beautifully told story of violence and courage, and an unforgettable look behind the yellow crime-scene tape. (Regional author tour)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-80235-X
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1997


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