The Wrong Side of the Badge

by Marshall Ginevan
BookVenture Publishing

"All four of you go. I want them alive too. I don’t care if you have to capture them with a net in their sleep. No shooting."

The fuel tanks are filled with testosterone in this high-octane crime opus. Set in the mid to late 1980’s and taking place in and around southern Texas and Mexico, this is a police procedural that pinballs its way through local, county, state, and national jurisdictions, with just a touch of potential international terrorism thrown in for good measure.

The action begins with good guys in a bad prison for crimes they didn’t actually commit. Eddie’s an ex-Major and fighter pilot from the Air Force who served as a police sergeant and was falsely convicted of attempted murder. Mike’s an ex-badge serving time for shooting the right kid at the wrong time. The kid’s father had enough money to get a group of cops to lose the gun the kid was brandishing and then testify that he never had one. Both Eddie and Mike want out in the worst way. Eddie does it legally. Mike doesn’t. Once they’re out, the action really kicks into high gear.

Eddie gets involved with a special narcotics task force that includes the FBI, the DEA, the ATF, Customs officials and more. They’re out to stem the flow of illegal drugs into the bottom part of the Lone Star State, and they have no compunctions about putting away corrupt officials (like the ones who railroaded Eddie) to get that job done. Mike decides to take a darker route. He’s hell-bent on retribution and will stop at nothing to get the guys who got him incarcerated—including twisting, bending, and even breaking any laws that keep him from exacting his revenge.

Ginevan fills his tale with page-turning action. Car chases, assassination attempts, shoot-outs, even air-to-air interdictions have a cinematic feel to them. But physical challenges aren’t the only things dogging his protagonists. Psychological and philosophical dilemmas are explored, too, as various stakeholders are coerced into ratting out their cohorts to save themselves, And, eventually, Eddie must decide between his friendship for Mike and his devotion to duty.

The author, an ex-military and law enforcement professional, does a first-rate job of dramatizing the exacting and often confrontational nature of coordinating interagency investigations and operations. In addition to the complexity required, cooperation is key, and Ginevan mines the potential personality peccadilloes that make working together harder than it has to be. Small town cops, big town bureaucrats, by-the-book ideologues, and seat-of-your-pants iconoclasts—they all come across as recognizable characters that readers will want to cheer or jeer.

Female characters, while fewer in number, don’t take a backseat to the boys in this tale either. There’s a wife whose aviation and policing skills are right up there with her husband’s. There’s a no-nonsense agent on the Vice President’s security detail that can take a joke and give any protection that is necessary. There’s a tough gal who has been turned by the feds and is playing fast and loose with corrupt officials as she tries to secure a more favorable outcome for her own less-than-legal deeds. And for those who like their loose ends tied but not necessarily knotted, the ending provides room for interpretation plus an appetizing incentive that there just might be more to come from some of these good and bad guys who bravely wear a badge.

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