Mulholland Books/ Little, Brown, $27.00, 336 pages, ISBN 978-0-316-46680-6
There’s plenty of reality TV programs these days that show viewers what cops are doing during their shifts, and what they’re putting up with from John Q. and Susie B. Public. Now, a new book puts readers into the jump seat of a 1980s vintage squad car during the spring and summer of a new officer’s probationary period in Oakland, California. It lets us see what the newbie cop is experiencing, and thinking, in an emotionally charged thrill ride that starts in the first chapter and runs through the last page.
Green Sun, by Kent Anderson is the third book of a trilogy which began with Sympathy For The Devil and Night Dogs, more than twenty years ago. Make no mistake however, Green Sun stands entirely on its own. It tells the story of Officer Hanson, a Viet Nam war Special Forces veteran who—at age 38—gives up the comfort of a professorship to return to life as a cop in a city that’s awash in strife and racial conflict. The Oakland streets are boiling hot under the summer sun. They’re also armed and angry, gang and dope-infested, seething, mean and set to explode at the slightest provocation. Hanson, who’s fighting his own personal demons . . . sees Death, following him around at times. He’s an unconventional cop, who realizes, justice is an elusive commodity that comes in other ways than strict enforcement of the law. He’s a lone ranger in hostile territory. He works alone, without backup on an understaffed, poorly managed, outnumbered, badly-equipped, inefficient, brutal and outwardly racist police force, where truth be told, the cops are scared to death of the public they serve. Hanson, who gave himself up for dead in Viet Nam, has long since made his peace with it and goes unafraid, where angels fear to tread, using respect, common sense and compassion instead of brute force to do his job. But at the same time, he’s drinking himself to death, trying to keep his ‘mean streak’ bottled up . . . and inhibit his inner urge to kill everyone he comes in conflict with. In a downward spiral, he meets an outspoken beauty named Libya and her irrepressive nephew Weegee, while at the same time, forming a dangerous friendship with Felix Maxwell, the biggest druglord in Oakland, based on their shared values of honor and fair play. Read it and see for yourself, why Green Sun is drawing rave reviews from everyone. Publishers Weekly puts it in the top ten mysteries and thrillers for Spring, but the MBR puts it in the top three. It’s one you don’t want to miss!