Most people know my wrting brand is firmly planted in the criminal underworld. Not because I am a criminal but my interests as a writer is with the folks who find themselves pressed up against the wall with few options. However as a reader I'm all over the damn place. I read crime novels, English mysteries and police procedurals. If we've ever met in person you know my unmitgated love of all things Ed McBain and the 87th Precinct. I love every and any iteration of the crime novel.
Mark Bergin's novel Apprehnsion is so much more than a crime novel.
Mark is a former reporter and a former police officer. Both vocations have given him the cool and detached eye of the observer. His descriptions are sparse but never boring. They are detailed without being overbearing. His dialouge is clear and concise but real. It sounds like you are a fly on the wall of a squad room. But the true strenthgh and power of this book are the characters. Specifically the lead character.
John Kelly is a cop on the edge. Not in the cliched anti-hero way but in the real fragile human way. Kelly is man in a slow grinding downward spiral that starts with the death of his niece and is exacerbated by his attempt to get revenge and then brought to rock bottom by a case involving a pedophile who just happens to be defended by his new girlfriend Rachel Cohen.
Apprehension is a character study disguised as a crime novel. It takes us inside the crumbling psyche of John Kelly and how his life torn apart by his rage, his despair and the endless, relentless stress of his job. A job he loves and loathes in equal measure. Kelly loves his brothers and sisters in blue but he is acutely aware of the cracks in the system. Kelly is like a walking pane of glass. Any stray stone will shatter him.
What really impressed me about this book was despite all the pressure and stress and pain bearing down on Kelly, the mental blackhole that is swallowing him whole, Kelly persists. He pushes and pushes and pushes himself to make the case. Even as he is falling appart.
The book is not perfect. I wish Rachel had been given more complexity and depth. As it stands she is an intelligent lawyer but a bit of a two dimensional character. The pacing can be a bit a slow for some readers but once you settle in and realize we are watching the dissolution of a man of honor who is doing dishonorable things it's less of an issue.
If you want to gain an insight into what it's really like being an officer of the law, with all the laurels and labyrthine anguish that can come with wearing a badge you would do well to pick up Apprehension by Mark Bergin