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Cop Town    by Karin Slaughter order for
Cop Town
by Karin Slaughter
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Being a woman in the Atlanta Police Department wasn't easy during the early 1970s but Maggie Lawson had blue in her blood and being a cop is all she ever wanted to do. Her uncle Terry and her older brother, Jimmy were already respected police officers. You'd think they'd welcome her to the force and things would've been easier for her. Instead, they did everything they could to hold her back, to prove that neither she nor any other woman belonged on the job. After five years as a cop, Maggie is still treated as if she'd stumbled into the wrong building.

Maggie grew up on the edge of poverty. Her dad had a good, well-paying job until he was shipped to Okinawa. He returned home so shell-shocked that he was in and in and out of mental hospitals ever since. She still lived with her mother, brother, and younger sister, turning her paycheck over to her uncle who took care of the family finances.

The story begins with a shooting. Maggie's brother Jimmy is on patrol with his partner, Don Wesley, checking out a call of a possible robbery-in-progress, when the shooter known as the Cop Killer steps from behind a building and targets Wesley. Don Wesley is his fifth victim. Jimmy is spared only because the shooter's gun jams. Jimmy carries his partner to a nearby hospital where Wesley is pronounced dead.

Maggie questions the story Jimmy tells after the event, but no one else does. Jimmy is the department's Golden boy. After having followed his life as a star high school football player who would've gone on to become a pro except for a leg injury, they welcomed him to the force and treated him with unquestioning loyalty and respect.

The entire Atlanta Police Force is out to find the Cop Killer. The girls (one of the nicest terms the women police officers are known by) are told to keep out of the way. The brotherhood of cops, led by Maggie's uncle, will break heads until they find the killer and they have no intention of taking a chance that a trial might put him back on the streets. Despite lack of evidence, they're sure the cop killer is a white-hating negro so that's where their investigation takes them. This is the situation when Kate Murphy arrives for her first day on the job.

Kate's story is different from Maggie's. Kate grew up in a wealthy neighborhood and could have lived with her parents indefinitely, but Kate wants to work. She wants to be good at something. The young Viet Nam War widow is untrained and couldn't get the hang of typing or shorthand, so job options are limited. Kate is glad to find a job that allows her to help others. She has no idea how tough police work is going to be.

Although they aren't allowed to participate in the investigation, Maggie follows her own ideas, dragging Kate along with her into danger. Kate does her best with her oversized uniform, men's shoes and a back-breaking equipment belt that doesn't allow her to sit down. On-the-job-training with Maggie is likely to get her killed but she plods on, risking her life and providing the best backup she can.

Karin Slaughter has written another winner. Although this is a standalone novel, you can't help but hope the standup characters in Cop Town will return in a second Atlanta police procedural series.

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