Under Color of Law

Thomas & Mercer: Amazon. (Trevor Finnegan, Bk. 1). Oct. 2021. 300p. ISBN 9781542030182. pap. $15.95. M
Clark’s (The Furious Way) new mystery is inspired by his time in the Los Angeles Police Department. He depicts an LAPD that’s rife with racism, fear, lies, and corruption. Protagonist Trevor Finnegan was familiar with LAPD culture when he entered the police academy, having heard the experiences of his father, a Black LAPD officer. As a rookie cop in 2010, Trevor witnessed two senior officers brutally beating a young Black man, then was removed from the scene. He was naive enough to lie about the incident in order to move up the ranks, with hopes of changing the department’s culture. Four years later, Trevor (now a detective) is handed a no-win case. The nude corpse of Brandon Soledad, a young Black LAPD recruit, has been found on a hiking trail in the Angeles National Forest. It’s not in LA’s jurisdiction, but Trevor is assigned to investigate because Brandon was in their academy, and LAPD fears a PR crisis. The young detective knows it’s a lie when he’s told the case is a career-maker. Upon discovering Brandon’s connection to the 2010 beating, Trevor is forced to confront the truth and question his own complicity in LAPD’s abuses. How far can one man be pushed?
VERDICT Clark’s ripped-from-the-headlines police procedural should make readers uncomfortable. It’s a frightening, tragic tale.
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