Before exchanging books with Jennifer Petkus we agreed upon certain parameters. If either of us didn't feel we could give the other person's book at least the equivalent of a strong 'Like' then we wouldn't post a review. I am not a critic, never intend to become one and certainly don't plan to use this blog to write defamatory remarks about anyone or anything (certainly not a fellow indie author!). Anything that appears on this blogsite is stuff I feel positive about. I want people to trust the site, to value what I say and hopefully return to it many times, so it would be extremely injudicious to use this platform in praise of what in 'my opinion' isn't worthy - shooting oneself in the foot is the expression that springs to mind! Personally, when it comes to books, I have an unwritten fifty page rule - if I've reached this (approximate) point and I am losing the will to live - then the book's put down, because life's too short for this kind of noble sacrifice (several names in the literary pantheon have bitten the dust at fifty pages).
So the fact that I am actually writing about Good Cop, Dead Cop by Jennifer Petkus should immediately be conveying to you that I made it all the way to the book's end and liked it. The story is set in Denver, Colorado, not somewhere I am personally acquainted with, however the author depicts it as a location very clearly. In fact, everything Jennifer Petkus writes about is done in a way that assures the reader she knows exactly what she's talking about. On the surface the book reads like a straightforward police procedural with a couple of cops, Alex Munroe and Linda Yamaguchi, who are working together on a series of cases. There's the usual cheeky banter between the two main protagonists and a range of characters, likeable and otherwise, that you'd expect to find in most stories set around a police precinct. Nothing unexpected so far, except for the fact that Alex Munroe died at the age of sixty-two which was already some years ago by the time the story starts. His partner, rookie cop Linda, wears a terminal on her arm which picks up Alex's 'field' and allows her to communicate with him. There's a bit of geeky science stuff to explain how the technology works, but Petkus manages to get this across to the reader without sounding like she has been busy swotting up on those computer manuals they don't even bother to print any more.
We are in a parallel universe (of sorts), where in the late twentieth century it was discovered that an afterlife actually existed and due to the development of 'the afternet' it is suddenly possible to communicate with the dead - or rather 'disembodied' (the word 'dead' is now considered to be a rather prejudicial term) who are only just beginning, for want of a better expression, to find their feet. The book suggests that in the future there may be a growing struggle for 'disembodied rights'. In fact the plot concerns itself with the disappearance of several disembodied people - a rather neat idea I thought - someone appears to have been abducting the dead! The disembodied, who were also invisible to other disembodied people too until the discovery of 'the afternet', often hang around newly installed terminals in Starbucks' coffee shops. Even so, 'afternet' technology is still in its infancy and Yamaguchi has undergone special training to enable her to work with a disembodied partner. I'm not going to get bogged down in the detail concerning communications between the living and those who are de*d, because the author has given these matters a great deal of thought and explains everything a
reader needs to know in a skilful and often humorous way, which didn't find me skipping pages or leave me bored even once.
The author writes with an assured confidence, and the book's main protagonists have a life that continues off the page. They are both extremely likeable, interact well together and swiftly established themselves in my imagination. I particularly enjoyed the short witty pieces which were presented as coming from a variety of different sources and preceded most of the chapters. These generally related to matters concerning the afterlife and the 'afternet' and the
reaction of the living to it. This is imaginative stuff and Jennifer Petkus employs a sly sense of humour which is very well suited to her smart scenario.
I am not someone who often reads Sci-Fi and if like me you habitually turn away at mention of any science stuff - take my word for it, you have nothing to worry about with Good Cop, Dead Cop. Once I had reached the book's end, I was certainly more than ready for another instalment. In this debut novel, Petkus has laid the foundation for what could easily become a very enjoyable series. I understand there is a sequel on the way and I will happily read it - there is a lot of potential here! In fact, although the main characters believe that the case has largely been wound-up, we are privy to facts that strongly suggest they are not - there are more dastardly deeds afoot!
This is well written, a very enjoyable read and I have no hesitation in recommending it.
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