Re: RARA-AVIS: Jonathan Craig

From: Jim Beaver (
Date: 08 Aug 2002

I've come to appreciate police procedurals enormously in recent months, first through the Sjowall-Wahloo books on Martin Beck (sort of semi-procedurals, at least in my mind) and then through Ed McBain. I guess I'd better check out Craig, since the genre (or sub-genre) is really enjoyable.

So it pleases me to point out a procedural that I like enormously. I've talked and asked occasionally about Richard Abshire, author of the Jack Kyle P.I. series, and co-author (with William Clair) of the Gants series (also a P.I., but with some supernatural overtones). And recently I inquired about TARGET BLUE, a book written by Abshire and Clair under the pseudonym Terry Marlow. Well, I'm about 20 pages from the end of TARGET BLUE, and unless everything gets shot to hell in those 20 pages in some literary catastrophe the likes of which I can't imagine, this will end up being, very likely, the best procedural I've ever read. Abshire and Clair are/were both cops, which informed their other books rather well, but which makes TARGET BLUE incredibly realistic. I like it far more than the others, though I like those books a lot. One aspect I like that I've not seen in other procedurals is the multi-viewpoint, multi-division framework. Rather than tell the tale from the viewpoint of the various homicide detectives working the case, "Marlow" tells this story from the perspective of police officers in several different divisions of the Dallas police department (divisions which pursue their own individual goals, sometimes to the detriment of another division's goal). One passage will be from the viewpoint of a detective working auto theft, another from that of a narcotics officer, another from that of a vice cop, and then there are also passages from the viewpoints of several criminals. Much of the story seems at first unrelated, one part to another, but it is weaving into a VERY complex but exciting tapestry of crime and investigation. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to read about how cops work. At least up until the last 20 pages. I'll let you know if it holds up or folds up. (Hell, I could've read those 20 pages in the time I took to write this!)

Jim Beaver

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