ABUSE OF POWER by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg


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 The heroine sports a police uniform instead of a lawyer's suit, but everything else is mayhem as usual in Rosenberg's latest dip into female legal paranoia (Trial by Fire, 1996; California Angel, 1995, etc.). Oak Grove is nothing like neighboring L.A., if only because the police department is squeaky clean. But Rachel Simmons, who all but saw fellow officer Jimmy Townsend plant a handgun on a drunk driver with bad attitude, wonders if the reason for the department's sterling reputation is that everybody's covering for everybody else. Well, Rachel, who's idolized cops ever since one of them rescued her from a molester 25 years ago, isn't one to cover up anything. When a beach party ends with preening Officer Grant Cummings groping her, she threatens to file a complaint against him. And when a teen gang fight ends in a fatal shooting Cummings could have prevented, she won't keep quiet, even though all the other officers present back up Cummings, leaving her the only one holding hands (and more) with prosecutor Michael Atwater. Retaliation follows when a routine late-night call turns into a fatal encounter, Rachel's backup units innocently fail to respond, and she swears out complaints against virtually the entire squad, who naturally close ranks even more tightly. The territory is familiar enough; Rosenberg's contribution is to present Rachel's adversary not as a faceless bureaucracy but as an extended family, puzzled and hurt by her defection, even as they're pushing her toward a financial disaster that would break up her family (her bright, willful daughter Tracy's already plotting just how big a price she'll have to pay to bail mom out), drive her from her home and job, and destroy her life. Written without the slightest subtlety or complexity, but at a barn-burning pace that practically guarantees big sales for an audience whose own problems will be dwarfed by Rachel's. (First printing of 200,000; Literary Guild selection)

Pub Date: March 3rd, 1997
ISBN: 0-525-93768-4
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1996


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