Breaking Blueby Timothy Egan
On the night of September 14, 1935, George Conniff, a town marshal in Pend Oreille County in the state of Washington, was shot to death. A lawman had been killed, yet there seemed to be no uproar, no major
“No one who enjoys mystery can fail to savor this study of a classic case of detection.”
On the night of September 14, 1935, George Conniff, a town marshal in Pend Oreille County in the state of Washington, was shot to death. A lawman had been killed, yet there seemed to be no uproar, no major investigation. No suspect was brought to trial. More than fifty years later, the sheriff of Pend Oreille County, Tony Bamonte, in pursuit of both justice and a master’s degree in history, dug into the files of the Conniff case—by then the oldest open murder case in the United States. Gradually, what started out as an intellectual exercise became an obsession, as Bamonte asked questions that unfolded layer upon layer of unsavory detail.
In Timothy Egan’s vivid account, which reads like a thriller, we follow Bamonte as his investigation plunges him back in time to the Depression era of rampant black-market crime and police corruption. We see how the suppressed reports he uncovers and the ambiguous answers his questions evoke lead him to the murder weapon—missing for half a century—and then to the man, an ex-cop, he is convinced was the murderer.
Bamonte himself—a logger’s son and a Vietnam veteran—had joined the Spokane police force in the late 1960s, a time when increasingly enlightened and educated police departments across the country were shaking off the “dirty cop” stigma. But as he got closer to actually solving the crime, questioning elderly retired members of the force, he found himself more and more isolated, shut out by tight-lipped hostility, and made dramatically aware of the fraternal sin he had committed—breaking the blue code.
Breaking Blue is a gripping story of cop against cop. But it also describes a collision between two generations of lawmen and two very different moments in our nation’s history.
- Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- Random House
- NOOK Book
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- File size:
- 2 MB
Meet the Author
Timothy Egan is the Pacific Northwest correspondent for The New York Times. His last book, The Good Rain, was published in 1990. He lives in Seattle with his wife, Joni Balter, and their two children.
- Seattle, Washington
- Date of Birth:
- November 8, 1954
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I have read several of Timothy Egan's more recent books, and love his writing style and subjects so much that I went in search of older works. I really enjoyed this one, and I can't believe I hadn't heard of it before. A crime committed by one of the "boys in blue" (an officer in the Spokane Police Dept) during the hard days of the Depression is covered up and goes unsolved. The victim is a cop himself, and his children never learn who killed their father. The retelling of this nonfiction crime is engrossing in itself, but Egan also introduces us to a present day small town sheriff who decides to write his master's thesis on his sheriff predecessors. He learns of the unsolved murder and becomes obsessed with solving it. Revelations of how our upbringing shapes our foibles, how black and white is sometimes gray, and how searching for truth can be alienating and sometimes unrewarding are all themes of this excellently written and engrossing work of nonfiction. What a talented author!
If you live in the Northwest, this book will hold some extra fascination. The references made about life during the Depression are educational. A good enough read.
I love reading about small events that have big implications! This story about the murder of a policeman in Spokane, WA in 1935 might make one think, "Who cares!" But the story is so artfully told, and so full of amazing and sad context, that it's easy to see how it could be applied to our time. Another one in this vein is Philp Gourevitch's A Cold Case. Recommended.
Whats wrong carter?
Sits on a tree branch and crys in her hands