GOD SQUAD by Walter Wagner


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Hair-raising stories from the murder capital of America--the inner-city of Detroit. This is supposed to be a hard-hitting, inspirational account of the Chaplain Corps of the Detroit Police Department, but the inspiration gets dampened, if not drowned, in all the blood. The Corps is the largest in the country, with 39 members, 21 black and 18 white. It was founded in 1973 by a black Methodist minister named Bill Paris. Three years later Paris was shot in the head while trylng to negotiate with a psychotic heroin addict. The policeman who tried to pull the mortally wounded Paris to safety was also shot (but survived). The gunman raced up to the top floor of the hotel where he was hiding, smashed the skylight with his rifle, and leaped through--only to be drilled through the chest by a police marksman perched three hundred yards away. When Paris and his would-be rescuer were carried out to ambulances, the crowd gathered around the hotel jeered at them and shouted obscenities. Another black minister, named William Crenshaw, succeeded Paris, and the work goes on, but the whole operation looks more or less futile, like swabbing a gangrenous wound with iodine. Wagner and the incredibly brave clergymen (the Corps includes two women) he writes about insist there is hope, and there may be. But after wading through all the murders, suicides, beatings, rapes, and riots that Wagner describes with chilling vividness, one wonders. Riveting, depressing, appalling.

Pub Date: March 2nd, 1979
Publisher: Doubleday