(story)time: Revolver by Duane Swierczynski

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As I mentioned in my last book post, I’ve been working my way through Nancy Pearl’s book recommendations lately. I just finished Revolver by Duane Swierczynski on Friday evening. If I was the kind of person who had the time to read a book in one sitting, this would have been that book. I love a good crime / mystery novel, and this one had several overlapping stories that spanned three generations of a family and more than seventy years of a city, from prohibition to the present day in Philadelphia.

Like The Turner House, this book jumped back and forth through time, chapter by chapter, focusing on 1965 / 1995 / 2015. The centerpiece is the unsolved murder of two cops while they were having a drink at a corner bar. One white cop, one black cop, gunned down in the prime of their careers, both leaving behind wives and teenaged sons. Twenty-five years later, the son of the white cop – now an officer as well – is in the middle of another high-profile case while also privately stalking a man he suspected was responsible for his father’s death. Twenty-five years after that, his granddaughter takes on the cold case herself, and uncovers hidden family secrets that reach back into the bootlegging days of the city.

In the author’s acknowledgements, he talks of being fascinated about police/citizen relations, the desegregation of police forces, the changes in cities and crime and police practices over the past century. He states that he started writing the book before the events in Ferguson, MO happened, but as those events unfolded here, he incorporated them into the story as well.

Last year I read the book Race, Place and Suburban Policing: Too Close for Comfort, by Andrea Boyles – a friend and co-worker of my friend, Brooke. (Many of you know Brooke well.) Brooke invited me to attend a Stand Against Racism talk with a panel of local authors. Boyles was one of them, and I checked out her book soon after hearing her speak at the event. Revolver, as fiction, touches on so much of the research shared in Race, Place  – in much the same way as The Turner House felt like a fictional continuation of the stories in The Warmth of Other Suns. Revolver examines the role of race throughout the book – within the police department, in interactions between police and citizens, where resources are focused, how race factors into an investigation, how members of a family reveal (or hide) secrets from one another. Excellent read – I’m looking forward to reading more of Swierczynski’s work.

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