As a homicide inspector in San Francisco during the 1970s and 80s, Frank Falzon investigated some of the most famous crimes of the decade, including the Night Stalker serial murders and the Moscone-Milk assassinations.
I came to this book in a pretty serendipitous way. I’d just listened to an episode of My Favorite Murder in which the one of the hosts covered a case discussed in this book, which she’d come across because her cousin was a colleague of Falzon’s. Just a day later, when I was in San Francisco to visit a friend, I went into a bookstore and about the first book I saw was this one. Clearly it was fate. I bought the book. (As though I need more excuses to buy books…)
This is a fast-paced book that gives us an overview of Falzon’s life and many of the notable cases that he helped investigate during his time with the San Francisco police department. Some of the cases are more well-known than others. Sometimes the police perform well and get the criminal off the streets quickly; sometimes they make mistakes in the course of their investigation. The book is narrated in a no-frills, conversational style like Falzon’s telling you the stories from across a dinner table.
The episodic nature of the stories related and the deeply personal narration meant that I was sometimes left wondering about the broader social context of some of the cases mentioned, such as the Zebra murders and the violence between the Tongs. It’s probably another kind of book I’d have to seek out to learn about that, though. That Falzon is the narrator means that we get mostly his side of the story when it comes to some of his controversial cases, but I didn’t mind this because he makes it clear that this is the case.