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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Theresa Schwegel's place in the pantheon of crime fiction icons is far from assured; but if her debut novel is any indication, she's well on her way to literary deification. Schwegel's Officer Down won the Mystery Writers of America's prestigious Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 2006 -- no small distinction, considering previous winners include James Patterson, Richard North Patterson, Stuart Woods, Jonathan Kellerman, Patricia Cornwell, Michael Connelly, and Steve Hamilton, to name just a few.
Samantha "Smack" Mack is a hard-charging police officer in Chicago's 23rd District, with more personal problems than most of the lowlife criminals she deals with on a daily basis. In the midst of a torrid love affair with married police officer Mason Imes, the whiskey-chugging, chain-smoking Mack finds herself in the middle of a political firestorm when she is involved in an incident that ends with the tragic shooting death of her partner. Put on administrative leave, Mack soon realizes that she's inexplicably being set up for the fatality and, against the orders of her superiors, starts investigating on her own. Confrontations with vicious Serbian thugs, Internal Affairs henchmen, and crooked cops eventually bring her face-to-face with the killer -- and cold, hard enlightenment.
Mixing the gritty atmospheric underpinnings and evocative metaphors of hard-boiled classics by authors like James Ellroy and Raymond Chandler with one of the most realistically drawn, fully realized female protagonists ever to grace a contemporary mystery, Schwegel's Officer Down is nothing short of a crime fiction masterpiece -- intense, unsentimental, heart-wrenching, self-destructive, shocking, and, above all else, oh so satisfying. Paul Goat Allen