Friday, July 12, 2019

THE BIRD BOYS by Lisa Sandlin

This review first appeared in Library Journal and is published here with permission. 

The Bird Boys is author Lisa Sandlin’s second in the mystery series (after The Do-Right, 2015) featuring private investigator Tom Phelan and his ex-convict secretary Delpha Wade. 
     After a brief reminder of Wade’s conviction for murder and how it still haunts her, a new client hires Phelan to find his long-lost brother to mend wounds of the past before it’s too late. Phelan and Wade know right away that their new client, using an alias and disguise, is not completely forthcoming about why he wants to find his brother.  Set in 1970’s Beaumont, Texas, the story unfolds as the investigators rely on traditional methods—phone books, libraries, public records, ruses, and hunches—to solve the case. But the truth may come too late as they weight their ethical obligation to their client with the impact reuniting the brothers may have.  During the process, as Wade demonstrates her talents and Phelan begins to recognize her as an investigative partner, they both sense there is more to their relationship. 

VERDICT: Reminiscent of classic mysteries by Chandler and Hammet with more character development and a strong, capable female lead, it will appeal to fans of Lou Bernie, Walter Mosely, and Kent Anderson.  

Sandlin, Lisa. The Bird Boys, Cinco Puntos Press, July 16, 2019. 
ISBN: 978-1947627130

A copy of The Bird Boys was provided by the publisher via Library Journal. No compensation was provided for this review. 

Friday, May 3, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Character and Cops: Ethics in Policing by Edwin J. Delattre

First published in 1989 and in its 6th edition in 2011, Character and Cops: Ethics in Policing, Sixth Edition, by Edwin J. Delattre is a very lengthy book published by the conservative American Enterprise Institute. The book is very dated for today’s law enforcement officer, unnecessarily wordy, follows a predictably conservative take on law enforcement issues, and seems to apply ethics to support those positions. Some arguments and conclusions seem not to be well supported, and some even contradictory. An example is that the Constitution is Supreme—obviously—but questions 8-1 court decisions in favor of free speech and makes an argument that the constitutional right to confront witnesses is not absolute. 

There was some good content in the book. I particularly agree

with the idea that good character can’t be or is difficult to teach, that preemployment screening of potential police officers is paramount, that standards for candidates should not be lowered to meet staffing shortages, and the “spirit of service” is essential. I agree also with examples of ethics in action in policing, and that those who fail to live up to the high standards required of policing should be removed from their positions. 

With some updating, more balanced positions, and serious editing, this book could play an important role in 21st Century law enforcement. However, there are better options available. 

Delattre, Edwin J. Character & Cops: Ethics in Policing, 6th Edition. American Enterprise Institute, 2011. ISBN: 978-0844772257

No compensation was provided for this review. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: The New World of Police Accountability by Samuel E. Walker & Carol A. Archbold

The New World of Police Accountability, Second Edition, by Samuel E. Walker and Carol A. Archbold provides a thorough examination of police accountability in the 21st century. Though there is no one model, progress has been made in police accountability by following guidelines that improve Policy, Training, Supervision, and Review of police practices. This includes implementing policies on critical incidents/events, e.g., use of force; vehicle pursuits, foot pursuits, crisis intervention, and more. It also includes proper analysis of data to gauge the successes and failures of efforts at accountability, which surprisingly is lacking. It also requires the study of risk management in policing, another concept that is poorly understood and utilized by police leaders. 

The authors point out that the PTSR model and the examples they include are nearly always implemented in consent decrees between police departments and the Department of Justice, and usually with positive results, if after rocky starts. Further discussed is the ability of agencies to maintain the changes once implemented, as they are costly and time consuming. 

The book lacked discussion on implementing the new police accountability measures is smaller departments. While big departments are easy to discuss and cite, most of the 18,000 police departments in the US are small to mid-sized yet face similar accountability and liability issues. Some examples or suggestions at how to best apply these ideas, even if only theoretical or only supported by anecdotal evidence, would be helpful to most of the police officers reading the book.

Walker, Samuel E. and Archbold, Carol A. The New World of Police Accountability, Second Edition. Sage Publications, Inc. December 11, 2013. ISBN 978-1452286877

No compensation was provided for this review.