The Thin Blue Li(n)e

The Thin Blue Li(n)e

by Brian Cook


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The Thin Blue Li(n)e picks up the saga of the Office of the Sheriff where Hands Across The Sea left off.

As the real talk grows contentious, the characters and storylines square off against puppeteers trying to pull the strings. While Sheriff Brendan Callaghan and Undersheriff H. Maxwell Ulrich dig deeper at the crux of the Union’s complaint, the needs of the Agency must balance the political muscle of the Board of Supervisors and the bureaucratic clout of the Vasco city officials.

Retired Captain Asa Belle not only pushes the envelope, but starts opening the ones sent from convicted killer, Daniel Bouchette. Will he confront his demon, or resist him?

Witness Sheriff Emeritus Garrison Cottrell’s spiral descent from Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease. The more the condition takes control of his state of mind, the more shocking secrets begin to be revealed that will sure to have ramifications countywide.

The truth is getting closer for Vikki Morgan to discover who left her mother for dead years ago, and what will prove to be worse: the person behind it or the cover-up.

The Thin Blue Li(n)e will test the Blue Wall of Silence across interpersonal and professional landscapes. Will the lines get crossed or will the lies finally catch up?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781635247107
Publisher: Amelia Publishing Inc
Publication date: 01/20/2017
Pages: 392
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.87(d)

About the Author

Brian Cook is a retired lieutenant of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office with over 14 years in the trenches of the supervisory arena. He received numerous commendations and honors during his 25-plus year career and is currently a member of several writing groups and networks. He lives in Antioch, California with his wife, Dauphne.

Read an Excerpt


"Are you a sheep, a sheepdog, or a wolf?"

— Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Dave Grossman

"Pay attention now; I send you out as sheep amongst wolves."

This biblical verse is apropos when envisioning recruits on the cusp of graduating from a basic law enforcement academy.

Months of strenuous training and classroom work prepares them only so much for the rigors that awaits them. From day one, it's instilled in them by instructors to be fair, but firm. But when their backs are against the wall, all bets are off; it comes down to survival of the fittest.

An excerpt from the book, On Killing, is a telling account on the dynamics of the sheep, sheepdog, and wolf, and how each correlates in society.

Sheep equate to everyday people without the innate capacity to harm anyone; oblivious to extreme evils existing amongst them. They can't fathom immoralities festering in the hearts of their neighbors, working in cubicles next to them in the workplace, or fellowshipping alongside them in church pews.

They can perceive nefarious acts of violence occurring in urban environments because it doesn't impede upon their idyllic lifestyles. But, say an officer patrols the hallways of their children's schools, uneasy parents will rail because badges with guns are a constant reminder that a critical incident can happen anytime, anywhere.

But when times get perilous, they'll demand for someone to protect the flock from those evils capable of unleashing unspeakable acts upon them. They'll want a hero, a warrior, to wit, the sheepdog.

Relying on their training, instincts, and raw courage, sheepdogs brave toward dangers head-on while others flee from them. But no matter the good sheepdogs serve, they're often judged harshly, as a group, by the same society they've sworn to protect and serve, because some sheep can't discern sheepdog from wolf. Both portray similar traits and possess a propensity for violence.

And finally, there's the wolf, that primal beast who stalk the weak and unsuspecting. Once a upon a time, wolves were easy to identify, but they've learned to adapt and infiltrate mainstream situations. They can appear as unassuming as a grandfatherly man in a van or an authority figure in a trustworthy uniform. Hell, even a businessman in a three-piece suit with a family and mortgage can pose a bigger threat than a Black man in a hoodie and baggy pants or a White man covered with menacing tattoos. There are some vile individuals in the world with bad intentions. They thrive on preying upon their victims, keying in on their naïveté, and waiting for the opportunity to pounce.

Pundits have opined for people to ward off an unprovoked attack, they should make themselves appear big and exude no fear. But oftentimes, they wilt under the immense pressure and offer no resistance to their victimizer. In the world we live in, how we carry ourselves matters.

Sheep, sheepdog, or wolf, they all have their place – whatever the terrain – but it boils down to what a person ascribes to be.

For those who opt to be a sheep, good luck with that. In the annals of law enforcement, some are deemed professional victims: people who attract despair like they're a magnet and rarely fight back, because it's not in their DNA.

If others' path lies in being a wolf, be forewarned. Their reign of terror will be short and end violently.

But if destiny dictates the few to be a sheepdog, they better train hard and then train harder to overcome the evils salivating to end them without remorse.

It's a brisk Friday morning, but the forecast was sunny for the Office of the Sheriff's 217th Academy class on this their graduation day.

On that first day, sixty-seven recruits in duty boots stood at the foot of Callaghan's Crest to kick off their year-long odyssey with a leisurely five-mile run. When it was over, sixty-two remained, gasping for air.

They bonded over study sessions and pizza, defying the risk of forging friendships too fast because some might falter before reaching the finish line. There's nothing worse than being ordered to close ranks when a comrade was no longer a sum of their equation. But in this life-and-death business, they better get over it quick and maintain focus, or they might be the next boot marched off-base. When the end was finally in sight, thirty-nine remained.

Sheriff Brendan Callaghan's mantra became their academy slogan to see them to the end: Pressure does two things – burst pipes and creates diamonds. Which one are you?

For those who made it, all pressed and dressed in their Class 'A' uniforms, their hard work was about to pay off. They sat attentively in the Regional Operations Center's Assembly Hall, amongst a packed audience, as Undersheriff H. Maxwell Ulrich delivered the commencement address.

"When I attended the academy many moons ago, I was selected by my fellow recruits to recite our graduation speech. The speech I gave then I'll deliver today, with some subtle twists, because its message still rings true in these troubling times.

"The world today needs strong, capable men and women to answer the call and protect people from wrongdoers. Sixty-seven of you shared that dream, but only thirty-nine will realize it.

"You'll soon swear an oath that'll bind you to protect not just the County, but what many Americans risk their lives for and often take for granted: liberty and freedom. Since the birth of this Nation, law enforcement officers have played an integral role in upholding and safeguarding these rights, which are guaranteed by the Constitution, and in protecting lives and property.

"We, as peace officers, are the only individuals entrusted with the power to arrest and deprive people of their basic liberties and freedoms, on the sheer belief they've committed a criminal act. Let that sink in a moment. We're one of the few who can enter inside people's homes solely because we wear a uniform and badge. We're the only fraternity allowed in any situation – on or off-duty – to carry and use deadly weapon. Therefore, the success of our free society is dependent upon the integrity and character of each of you embarking upon this new career.

"Law enforcement remains one of the most noble and selfless occupations. Making a difference in the quality of people's lives is an opportunity policing provides, that other professions cannot. So before you execute any task in the color of your authority, always pose this question to yourself: Is what I intend to do legal, ethical, and moral? If you answer yes to all of the above, you're on the right path. If you answer no to any of them, ponder this: If the outcome affects your income, don't do it. The job we perform is important, and this responsibility can only be done by those who refuse to permit personal feelings, biases or prejudices influence their decisions.

"I'd like to pass on my personal edict I handed down to my son who's a sergeant with us: Be wary when sharing your war stories. We are paid well to respond to horrific and despicable crimes that others should never experience. Don't unnecessarily divulge the gruesome details of those atrocities awaiting you to your loved ones and friends. I guarantee you, much of what you'll see on this job can be damaging to your psyche. But I'm also a realist and understand some of you will ignore me and choose to tell all. Just take it from someone who's been exposed to real horror stories – find healthier means to release it.

"Many unfortunates before you resorted to relying on the bottle or other destructive outlets to cope with it and aren't with us anymore. This is the first day of the rest of your career. How it starts may not be how it ends.

"My last piece of advice will also be the hardest you'll be required to do: always do the right thing regardless of the circumstances, I repeat ... always do the right thing! But it'll be up to you to figure out what that right thing is when confronted by that penultimate moment. There'll always be land mines waiting to influence your judgment and abilities to be effective peacekeepers. Will you be a positive difference or will your actions reflect negatively on you and all who wear the badge? You can be as nice as you want, but you don't have to be as nice as you need to be when you're up against it.

"But, today's your day to revel in your accomplishments, and for that I say, well done! We extend our arms and welcome you into a family that's thirty-nine stronger today, but now the real work begins. Grab hold of your career and make it what you want it to be! In the words of Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman: Are you a sheep, a sheepdog, or a wolf? The choice will be yours! Thank you and be safe out there! Sheriff, I present to you the graduating class of the 217th Academy!" The audience gave him a standing ovation. The Undersheriff isn't nearly the showman the Sheriff is, but he still hit it over the fence.

"You set the bar pretty high for me to follow, but I'll try my best," Sheriff Callaghan said. "Albert Einstein once said, 'The world is a dangerous place to live. Not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.' You're about to enter into a profession where you'll be expected to do something about it. There are three words I'll demand each of you to uphold: integrity, courage, and honor. They'll define your purpose in your careers and in life. I believe it's an honor to be in law enforcement, but lately, our credibility within many communities has taken a hit and we must work together to repair it. We're bound with our brethren in blue to accomplish it, because the stakes are too high. Blue, it's the color of the sky and seas that stretches far and wide. But in law enforcement, it symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, and self-confidence. We're accountable for our actions, and we must consistently earn and nurture these traits from the public we serve or it'll continue to erode.

"Without their faith in us, we're failing in our fundamental duty: to serve the community. We must strive to make an unwavering effort to make a difference during every shift. We'll always be judged by the way we treat others, but it's up to you to ensure you'll be a positive example to all or you could bring dishonor to us all. Wear your badges with pride; never wield it as a weapon. The Oath of Office you'll be reciting isn't just a statement for the present, but a promise for the future. It's a pledge you'll intend to do what you say you'll do. So if you're ready, please rise. Are you ready to cross over from being recruits and join the ranks of the Office of the Sheriff?"

"Sir, yes, sir!" they shouted, snapping to attention.

"Then raise your right hands and repeat after me. I, state your name ... do solemnly swear ... that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States ... that I will bear true faith and allegiance ... that I take this obligation freely ... and that I will, well and faithfully, discharge the duties upon which I am about to enter ... so help me God."

"So help me God!" they bellowed.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the newest members of the Office of the Sheriff, the class of the 217th Academy!" The audience gave them a boisterous applause. One by one, their names were called. They approached the Sheriff, and he pinned their Agency badges onto their jackets. A moment they won't soon forget.

After Deputy Roman Pugh received his badge, he addressed the crowd. "Thank you, Sheriff. And the class would like to bestow you with these tokens of appreciation. Front row ... atten-hut!" The deputies rose and flipped over placards painted Agency blue – what else? – inscribed with the inspirational words: Honor, Integrity, Trust, Fidelity, Vigilance, Commitment, and Duty. "We envision them hanging from the Training Facility's ceiling as constant reminders for all why they chose to do this job."

"I happily accept your gifts," the Sheriff smiled. "They'll be displayed proudly so nobody will ever forget the Office of the Sheriff is the best law enforcement agency in the land, hands down." As the audience applauded, Commander Pete Harwell's cell phone vibrated. He glanced down at a text sent by a support staffer:

Suzie: '11-98 lobby ASAP! Your X is here and going ballistic!'

He slithered from his chair, and when he cracked the door open, he heard all hell breaking loose, and his wife, Candice, was the one releasing it.

"Where the fuck is he?" Candice demanded. "You call him out here, or I'll ..."

"Whoa, whoa! You're not gonna do nothing!" Commander Harwell barked. "What're you doing here anyway?"

"Don't turn this back on me!" Candice shoved a crumpled paper toward his face. "Who's this nasty skank?" He peered at it, but when he smirked, it only stoked her already white-hot embers into an inferno. "What ... you reminiscing? You arrogant bastard!" She cocked back her hand and swung to slap him, but he dodged it and snatched her up off the ground from behind, as her feet flailed wildly in the air. "Let me go, you mother ..."

Commander Harwell muffled her mouth as she fought like an alley cat to break free. "Stop squirming, goddamnit! Owww! Quit biting!" He toted her outside as onlookers spied this hellion tussling with the strong-arm of the law. They surmised she must've brought it on herself because, after all, he is an officer. There must be a good reason why she's getting the bum's rush. He reached a remote stretch of dirt road and began whispering sweet somethings into her ear.

"I'm gonna set you down, and when I ... and when I do, you better ... be cool, or your next stop will be to a holding cell ... and you know I'll do it! You got me?" Candice nodded stubbornly she'd play nice. He lowered her and readied himself in case she pulled a double-cross.

"Now let's try this again," Commander Harwell muttered. "What's your fucking problem?"

"My fucking problem is this fucking picture!" Candice exclaimed. "Who's this bitch with your dick in her mouth?"

"Why does it have to be me? Whatever happened to giving me the benefit of the doubt? This could be anybody. Nowadays, anybody can make anyone look guilty of something with ... what's it called ... photoshop? All this MyFace, InstantFace bullshit, you can't believe anything you see anymore. That's why I'm not into that online crap. Hell, I don't even know what's online, offline. If you ask me, it's probably one of your Stepford girlfriends messing with your head to get at me, like that Linda chick; she's always flirting with me."

"Sell that shit to somebody else," Candice scoffed. "Look at the picture, Pete. Look at it good! If you're gonna lie, you might not want to wear the fucking pinky ring I bought you!" He glared at it, and saw his signet ring prominently on the hand gripping Deputy Daniels's locks on the downstroke. If this were a boxing match, Candice just landed an overhand right. He wasn't knocked out, but she had him on the ropes.

"Okay, okay, you got me. Are you happy?" Commander Harwell admitted. "You cracked the case, Sherlock! But, she was just something to do."

"Is that supposed to make me feel better? What's so damn special about her? Why would you risk what we've got for this ... ghetto trash?"

"I couldn't help myself. She was a challenge, I wanted to see if she'd make me breakfast in the morning, what do you wanna hear? She's not White, she's not Black, she's ... neutral. I saw an opening and went for it, end of story."

"Goddamnit, Pete, you know our rule! What if I went out and sucked some long, Black donkey cock? Would you like that?" Candice emphasized her point by rubbing her chest and wetting her lips sensuously with her tongue. Commander Harwell's eyes shrunk in anger.

"Over my dead body, because that's the only way it would happen!"

"Then how do you think I felt seeing this bitch going down on you? We made a deal. You can bring home whoever you want for us ... but no flying solo!"

"You mean if I had brought her home, you'd been okay with that?"

"Fuck no! She may pass for White, but she's still a nigger to me! It's bad enough Miss Eggplant put her filthy mouth on you, how do I know she didn't give you something?"

"Now you're blowing this out of proportion. It's not like she's pure coon. Believe me, she's more on the lighter side than the shade. You're my sun, and I'm merely a planet revolving around you."

"Oooh, I hate that you know how to push my buttons! I have half a mind to divorce your ass and take you to the poor house to teach you a lesson!" Candice closed her eyes, then sighed in frustration. "But why can't I just stay pissed at you! We've got a good thing, but if this Black slut is the thing that's gonna come in between us, I might as well go file papers ..."

"Whoa, don't talk stupid! There's no woman that can hold a candle to you, my sweet Candy Cane. What we've got can't nobody break up. But this isn't like you. When did you start putting boundaries on me?"


Excerpted from "The Thin Blue Li(n)e"
by .
Copyright © 2016 Brian Cook.
Excerpted by permission of LitFire Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

ONE: Are You A Sheep, Sheepdog, Or Wolf,
TWO: This Stuff Comes In Handy Sometimes,
THREE: I Hope You Kept The Receipt,
FOUR: But You Call Him Pathological,
FIVE: Da Shit You Say,
SIX: It's Not One Of Our Finest Hours,
SEVEN: Is That How You Remember It,
EIGHT: It Was A Dark And Stormy Night,
NINE: So What Happens When There's No Smoke,
TEN: Give It Up, Champ,
ELEVEN: Now Was That So Hard To Say,
TWELVE: Dat Cat Always Lands On His Feet,
THIRTEEN: I'm Cursed With My Mother's Tact,
FOURTEEN: Both Of My Girls Are Pretty,
FIFTEEN: But I'm The Impatient Type,
SIXTEEN: When Does It End,
SEVENTEEN: I Should've Kept My Mouth Shut,
EIGHTEEN: Well, Look Who Thinks He's A Real Boy,
NINETEEN: This Cloudy Day's Affecting My Spirit,
TWENTY: Since When Do You Speak French?,
TWENTY-ONE: All Hat, No Cattle,
TWENTY-TWO: We're Just Old Crows Jawing,
TWENTY-THREE: Do I Have To Paint With Broader Strokes,
TWENTY-FOUR: Your Balls Finally Done Dropped,
TWENTY-FIVE: I Didn't Know Any Better,
TWENTY-SIX: In Order To Create, You Must First Destroy,
TWENTY-SEVEN: The Unit Killer, Not So Much,
TWENTY-EIGHT: Don't Blame Lion For Bein' Lion,
TWENTY-NINE: What In Tarnation Are We Doing In Tar Nation,
THIRTY: I Hope You Treat Me Better Than That,
THIRTY-ONE: I Didn't Expect To See You Here,
THIRTY-TWO: Big Business Is Dangerous Enough,
THIRTY-THREE: He Worked Too Long To Be A Choir Boy,
THIRTY-FOUR: Why Does It Have To Be Black Magic,
THIRTY-FIVE: What Were You Promised To Sell Us Out,
THIRTY-SIX: Sometimes The Right Person's Behind Bars,
THIRTY-SEVEN: Are You In Or Out,
THIRTY-EIGHT: He'll Get Over On You If He Can,
THIRTY-NINE: Then It Was Worth The Risk,
FORTY: It Don't Taste The Same Anymore,
FORTY-ONE: Weed The Thorns From The Roses,
FORTY-TWO: Needless To Say, I Won,
FORTY-THREE: What Does That Gobbledygook Mean,
FORTY-FOUR: If A Woman's The Oil In Your Vinegar, Separate Her,
FORTY-FIVE: When He Screws The Pooch, It Stays Screwed,
FORTY-SIX: I Never Do Anything Without Insurance,
FORTY-SEVEN: You're Not Prepared To Help Yourself,
FORTY-EIGHT: I Don't Fish,
FORTY-NINE/EPILOGUE: I Think Your Deputies Are In Trouble,

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