The Dime is an interesting book. It purports to be one thing, and it is for most of the story’s first 2/3rds. And then it becomes something else in the final 1/3rd. How you feel about the book will likely hinge on how you feel about that final 1/3rd.
Let’s start with those first 2/3rds: It was okay. Betty, the protagonist, is a narcotics officer with the Dallas Police Department, and a New York transplant. Kent doesn’t waste a lot of time comparing the two different cities, instead letting it happen organically through Betty’s adventures. Fine. The adventures are just nothing I haven’t read before. Cop going against the drug traffickers and since they’re opponent in the beginning of the story is Mexican, there are a lot of scary stories, overly-tattooed bodies, random gang names, JUAREZ, the works. Every white writer manages to write Mexican drug cartels in the same way. It was cruising to an interesting end of a police procedural and likely a 3-star rating.
And then that final 3rd, where the book just goes the f off. I can’t describe it without spoiling so I won’t try but I think the reason it worked for me is I liked that Kathleen Kent was doing something different. While I’m still not sure if it worked or not, it jerked the story away from being a competently written but familiar procedural tale and became something else. Even though I had a good idea of what would happen, I was tearing through the pages trying to figure out what was next.
I think what saved this one for me is the relationship between Betty and her partner Jackie. Kent wrote their relationship well and thus, it gave stakes to a story that could have otherwise been a boring lone cop tale. She also delves into the trials of being publicly gay in a conservative area without pandering. You never forget that Betty has to deal with the bullcrap that comes from living in a homophobic society. But Betty also doesn’t define herself by that. She and Jackie have something real and that provides the book a heart it would otherwise be lacking.
So I’m giving this a reluctant 4-stars. I was hoping to like it more than I did but I don’t want to hold that against the author. I do want to try the next in the series; I’m just hoping Kent can find a better story to tell.