After all the violence in the last book, I almost didn’t bother with this one; however, it was much less bloody but not without its gritty realism. The book is set in the 1970s, with a madman on the loose targeting cops and a police force that is in turmoil. This is the world that Kate Murphy has stepped into – it’s her first day on the job and she isn’t prepared for the harsh reality of a macho environment. There aren’t many women on the force, and they are looked down on by the men as being unfit to do the job. She’s wearing a uniform that’s too big, shoes that don’t fit, a hat that won’t stay on her head and weighed down by the belt and all of its accoutrements. As she stumbles into the women’s locker, the only other female cop to take some pity on her is Maggie Lawson.
Maggie’s brother Jimmy had been involved in a shooting the night before and his partner was killed. Their uncle Terry, is also on the force, and he’s one of the most outspoken against women. Still, Maggie won’t give up, and she ends up taking Kate under her wing, and partners with her. The two of them are an unlikely pair as we learn Kate’s background is very different from Maggie’s. They decide that they have just as much chance to solve the cop killings as any of the men, and soon uncover a lot of hatred under the surface and things aren’t quite what they seem.
The POV switches back and forth between Maggie to Kate, with an occasional narrative from Fox, aka The Shooter. He’s obsessed with Kate, though the depth of this isn’t realized till later in the book. The story unfolds over the course of a few days, but it’s packed with action and a lot of twists and turns. The time period is well written and the characters are all complex and very human. My only nitpick would be some of the loose ends with a sexual relationship that Kate had with an old friend, as well as Maggie’s family life after the case was wrapped up. I’m not sure if Ms Slaughter is going to revisit these characters, but I think there’s a lot more story to be told about this pair of women and how they deal with the sexism of the time.