Published by Dundurn Publishers of Fine Books
Cover Image by Shutterstock.com/JustBreak
I must confess that Police Procedural Novels were not my genre of choice, emphasizing process over creating rich characters and developing a robust plot. However, after reading Brenda Chapman’s masterpiece; “Turning Secrets”, my misgivings have been assuaged.
It all begins innocuously enough with a brief chapter that seems (but appearances can deceive) to simply introduce us to a hapless small time criminal, Fisher, trying to escape the reprisal of a criminal a little further up the food chain. A peek, if you will, at the squalid underbelly of society, a realistic portrayal of the outcome of bad life decisions, small time crime and its milieu.
The story is so well crafted and characters so well drawn that we begin to empathize with them even to the extent that we experience their fear, despair, suspicion and rage.
The female protagonist, Officer Kala Stonechild, is a tough and capable cop with a past of her own that helps her understand many of the people she must routinely deal with.
This convoluted mystery begins with the discovery of the body of Nadia Armstrong who’s recently become a single mother. Was it suicide, accidental overdose or murder? Like the proverbial loose thread the more you pull the more the case unravels.
Things go from bad to worse for Stonechild amid an atmosphere of secrets. She doesn’t know who she can trust precipitated by corrupt politicians, department leaks, male chauvinist cops and bent bureaucrats that threaten to not only bury the investigation but also destroy its participants. The situation is exacerbated by elusive evidence, red herrings and rabbit holes. Stonechild can’t even be certain of her lover, Paul Gunderson, whose estranged wife, Fiona, has just moved back in.
This brilliantly written, suspense filled and multifaceted police procedural will bring you to the edge of your seat as you follow Stonechild’s teenage niece, Dawn and her adolescent trials and tribulations. Chapman adroitly builds tension and then just when you think it’s safe, it isn’t.
Brenda Chapman is brilliant at creating a sense of realism so powerful you will feel that you are witness to the events and processes of an actual police investigation. She truly is a master of her craft.
“Turning Secrets” challenged my preconception of police procedurals and has emerged triumphant. She has, without doubt, taken the genre to a new level.