Cezanne Martin has had it rough-she made it through her rookie year as a Fort Worth, Tex., cop; survived a disastrous affair with a colleague who neglected to mention his unbalanced wife; and managed to see the silver lining in having crusty Roby Tyson, a longtime veteran of the force, as her partner. Yet her world is turned upside-down with the Lady Godiva case, where the lady in question is none other than the captain's daughter and Roby's secret lover. The murder turns cop against cop and all evidence points to the grief-stricken Roby. Cezanne is determined to clear her partner despite getting demoted to a desk job, having to work side by side with her ex-lover's vengeful wife and being forced into sessions with the department shrink ("A forty-five minute visit with Aden Whitelark... left her gnawing a hole inside her mouth"). While Moore (Constable's Run), a former cop and lawyer, knows the Texas justice system and writes credibly about its fools and foibles, she bombards the reader with ancillary subplots better saved for a subsequent outing. Nevertheless, the book is full of quirky characters, deft descriptions and razor sharp humor. And Cezanne is truly a work of art: a fiery mass of attitude, intelligence and barbed wit, haunted by a childhood best described as awful. Though facing an uncertain future after quietly earning a law degree, C zanne has handily earned a spot among contemporary female crime solvers like Evanovich's Stephanie Plum, Grafton's Kinsey Millhone and Garcia-Aguilera's Lupe Solano. (Dec.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
How's this for a conflict of interest? The same day Detective Cézanne Martin, of the Fort Worth Police Department, learns that she's passed the Texas bar exam, she catches a red-hot homicide: the slaying of Carrie Crane, the daughter of hard-nosed Captain Chuck Crane, Cézanne's boss. Acting on information Cézanne's partner, hard-drinking Roby Tyson, meant for her ears alone, the department moves swiftly to build a case against Roby, who offers her $50,000 if she'll take him on as her first legal client while she's still working the case. Not only does Cézanne see no ethical problem here but, realizing that the case file will be closed to Roby's attorney, she blackmails her old mentor, Deputy Chief Daniel Rosen, into reinstating her in Homicide-this after she's sidelined to the career graveyard of the Pawn Shop Detail, where she's run into more antagonism in the shape of new secretary Darlene Driskoll, the wife Cézanne never suspected departmental ladies' man Doug Driskoll was hiding when he swept her out of the squad room and into bed. As their colleagues circle the wagons against Roby and Cézanne, she reaches out to the one person she can trust: a hayseed sheriff from Johnson County. Clearly, debut novelist Moore isn't conflict-shy, and she's created a no-holds-barred heroine who does whatever she needs to in order to come out on top. Ignore the false notes here-the tough-but-vulnerable swagger, the overheated backstory, the witless Who's-on-First interlude, the interminable windup-and pray that Moore, who's well worth watching, sticks to her best stuff next time.
Laurie Moore holds a Ph.D. in Expressive Psychology and has taught both graduate and undergraduate students. She teaches workshop retreats and writes the "Letters to Dr. Laurie Moore" column. She holds a private practice in Los Gatos, CA, Santa Cruz, CA, and nationally by phone.