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Paul Bishop tells a good story in a straightforward, no-nonsense way. Croaker: Grave Sins, is one of his best in this series. Fey Croaker is a physically and mentally battered cop who’s as tough as hard-used anvil. The plot revolves around a star basketball player who’s accused of raping, murdering and burying a teen male prostitute. It’s an intricate web involving an egotistic DA, his criminal son, a serial killer, Fey’s ex-drug addict brother and a slew of police force comrades, my favorite of whom are Hammer and Nails, a male and female with a seemingly psychic and a definite sexual bond.
Bishop’s Fey Croaker novels breathe authenticity. Bishop’s 35-year career includes a tour with his department’s Antri-Terrorist Division and more than 25 years in sex crime investigation. He’s also a nationally recognized interrogator. Where other writers have to do a lot of research, Bishop has lived it. He knows the life, the lingo, the feelings of cops, the internal politics and the higher bureaucratic politics, the dedication and the high of closing in on a suspect.
His insights on closing off feelings when viewing a dead body perfectly captures the compartmentalization a cop has to maintain to keep his or her sanity. It’s a dirty, brutal life.
I was working on restoring a house while listening to this and actually stopped my work to listen to chillingly realistic gunfight scene, and again at the gripping climax at the end when Fey confronts the demented villain.
Fey Croaker is a fully developed character, hard, dedicated, carrying a load of childhood sexual abuse, three failed marriages, a rock hard set of morals and a tender side.
Milton Bagby is the perfect narrator with a well nuanced, gritty voice that perfectly captures the hard-edged cynicism of LA and its officers.
I hope more Bagby narrated Croaker novels are in the works.
Where this book really shines is in the interrogation room and the reader gets a glimpse of the strategies and tactics used to elicit confessions from suspects.
Though Fey Croaker is the main character we get to meet a handful of other detectives who are just as interesting and could probably carry a book by themselves.
Warning: This book deals with investigations into sexual crimes and though Bishop exercises restraint, there is still some graphic material that certain readers may not be comfortable with.