Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Book Review: Benefit of the Doubt by Neal Griffin

Benefit of the Doubt
Author: Neal Griffin
Publication: Forge Books; Reprint edition (May 12, 2015)

Description: Neal Griffin is a twenty-five year veteran of law enforcement. He's seen it all, from routine patrols to drug enforcement to homicide investigations, from corrupt cops to men and women who went far above and beyond the call of duty.

Benefit of the Doubt is a gripping thriller that exposes the dark underbelly of policing in small-town American, where local police departments now deal with big-city crimes and corruption.

Ben Sawyer was a big-city cop, until he nearly killed a helpless suspect in public. Now a detective in the tiny Wisconsin town where he and his wife grew up, Ben suspects that higher-ups are taking payoffs from local drug lords.

Before long, Ben is off the force. His wife is accused of murder. His only ally is another outcast, a Latina rookie cop. Worse, a killer has escaped from jail with vengeance on his mind, and Newburg—and Ben Sawyer—in his sights.

My Thoughts: Ben Sawyer, his wife Alex and his tween son have moved back to their hometown of Newberg, Wisconsin, after Ben, who was a police officer in Oakland, California, had a meltdown at work that was caught on camera. He was more or less forced to resign to save the department embarrassment. He called on his father-in-law who was the chief of police in Newberg for a job. He was hired but not really accepted by the other police officers. Then his father-in-law had a massive stroke and a new guy, who doesn't like Ben at all, is chosen as the new chief of police.

Tensions are high at work and Ben is still dealing with the consequences of his meltdown when a convicted murder is paroled and decides to take his revenge on the people who framed him for murder. The current chief of police and his lackey who does the drug investigating don't want anything to rock their current boat. Both are siphoning tons of money off the illegal sales of drugs which could come to light if the murderer makes it to Newberg.

The supposed murderer - Harlan Lee - does come to town and kill a friend of Ben's wife Alex neatly framing her for the crime. The police chief and his deputy McKenzie are very willing to look the other way given that it might be a good way to get rid of Ben who is much too honest for them.

The thing that struck me the most through this story was how isolated Ben was both from his fellow officers and from people he might have known when he lived in town. His only support comes from the chief of police's secretary who has also been his father-in-law's secretary and a rookie cop named Tia Suarez who has an interesting and very useful military background.

The story was packed with tension and action. Fans of very suspenseful police procedurals will enjoy this offering by debut author Neal Griffin.

Favorite Quote:
What was it the old man always used to say back when Ben first started hitting him up about being a cop?

"It's like working in a sausage factory. People don't want to know how you make it. They don't even want to know what goes into it. They just want to buy it with no questions asked."

True enough. Police work could get ugly. Unconventional, even.
I got this one from the publisher for review. You can buy your copy here.

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