This is a fabulous entry to the true crime genre. Rather than focusing on a specific crime, this book focuses on several teams of homicide detectives in Prince George County, Maryland. All of the cases are ones that occurred in the month of February 2013. For people who enjoy some of the shows on Discovery ID and A&E, like and The Detectives and The First 48, then this book is for you.
The front of the book provides a map of the area that is covered by the homicide squads in question and maps where each individual was murdered and their name and age. Prince George County is located in Maryland very close to the Washington D.C. Line. The chapters initially introduce the date, time and which detectives are assigned to the case.
From there, the facts of the case unfold. In a very few instances, the case is already underway but there were developments in February 2013 that prompted a greater focus on a case that may have gone somewhat cold. There are a few details provided about the detectives private lives and how they became involved in having a career in law enforcement and how many years they have worked as an officer and in the homicide squad specifically.
The victim is then identified and the process of investigating the murder begins. From surveying the initial crime scene, witness interviews, forensic tech collections, notifying the family of the victim all the way through tracking down suspects, narrowing the field and then honing in on the actual perpetrator.
An easily solved murder is called a “smoker”. A high profile case is called a “redball express.” High profile cases are those defined by being particularly heinous in nature or involving a vulnerable member of the public – the elderly, the very young, perhaps having fame or notoriety on the part of the victim or the murderer or any case that the media chooses to focus on in a sensational manner.
There are certain things that become noticeable right away about the homicide unit. One is that it is populated by very eccentric and quirky personalities. Another is the dearth of women
in the unit. There are only two or three female detectives and they get very little focus in the book. The humor expressed by the detectives is very much in the gallows humor vein and is used as a coping mechanism by those who spend long hours immersed in the unpleasant business of murder. An interesting thing the author did was not to pull punches – if a detective was annoying, obnoxious or narcissistic, that was shown rather than painting a picture of these cops as being overly heroic or idealizing them.
Included in the stories as well, were a cop shooting which is investigated by the homicide detectives as murder; a case where they were called in to investigate deaths that occurred during the course of a house fire and a stabbing that walks a very fine line between involuntary manslaughter and self-defense. In other words, there are times when murder is not murder and vice versa. As for solving every case within the first forty eight hours….well, unless it is a smoker, not so much.
I would recommend this book whole heartedly and give it a very strong four stars. There is one thing that I would like to draw attention to, more for the sake of the editorial and publishing staff and on behalf of readers. This does not occur too often in the book but it occurs enough to be noticeable to me as a reader and therefore it will be noticeable to other readers.
There is an over-reliance on machinery to pick up spelling and grammatical errors. For the most part, it works. What doesn’t work however is when a word is spelled correctly but it is the incorrect word – for example, past for passed. Computer aided editing cannot discern context either. People need to be brought back into the copy reading and editing realm. As books become more and more expensive, it becomes harder for readers to accept the dip in quality control of the printed word.
The correct use and context is extremely important to readers. While we have progressed as a society in our use of machines in an effort to save money in business, it is important to remember that readers are why books are written. If the errors become noticeable to readers, they begin to impact the reading experience and it becomes detrimental to sales of books and it may deter readers from picking up books by that author or publishing house in the future.
A small thing but the one thing that affected my overall enjoyment of what is otherwise a very strong book and a great read. This one is a keeper!