A rookie jailer’s first day on the job is almost her last.
After drifting through a series of dead-end jobs while living at her grandmother’s motel, Jace Salome becomes a corrections officer. Maybe her decision has something to do with her mother’s disappearance years before and the lackluster way the authorities searched for her. During her first night on the job, Jace is stuck in the area separating her pod from the rest of the jail while her partner, Reynolds, has a fight with an inmate inside, leading to the inmate’s death. From the beginning, the whole situation feels wrong to Jace, and an investigation by the Texas Rangers does nothing to reassure her. Looking into the death with only her newfound female jailhouse friend Rory to help her, Jace knows her partner purposely killed the prisoner. She also knows that incidents like this have happened before, for although there may be a lot of good cops out there, Jace seems to see only the ones who are willing to kill. Some admit their activities to her while excusing their behavior by saying the dead were all child molesters who were getting off easy. Despite her fear, Jace constructs a picture of a network of dangerous cops in several West Texas jails. Slowly, honest cops feed her information that will eventually help the Rangers build a case. As she puts the pieces together, Jace discovers a wide-ranging conspiracy that puts her life in danger.
Barker (Exit Blood, 2013, etc.), a former journalist who works in law enforcement, has produced a noirish police procedural that’s gritty, violent and utterly believable.