Title: Open Season
Author: Maryann Miller
Publication Date: December 15th 2010
This book was chosen as BOTD on onlinebookclub.org. Check it out here!
I am reviewing it as part of their reviewer rewards program. This does not affect my opinion in any way!
(Please note that the cover used is for the hardcover edition.)
Amid racial tensions and the deadly force controversy sweeping the city of Dallas Homicide detectives Sarah Kingsly and Angel Johnson are unlikely and unwilling partners. They both see the pairing as better PR than policy.
Their first case dubbed the Mall Murders begins with the death of a maintenance worker at one of the Metroplex shopping malls. A security guard is then killed at another mall. The final murder victim is a young window dresser whose body is left like a mannequin behind the glass of an exclusive boutique at the Galleria Mall.
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I love police procedurals or crime novels even though I don’t read them that often anymore, and this is easily one of the better one’s I’ve read. It follows two detectives Sarah who has just lost her partner in a bust gone wrong where she shot and killed an African-American teen. The media are creating a frenzy as the case is seen as being a racially motivated shooting. The department decides to pair her up with a new partner, Angel, an African-American woman, hoping to take some of the heat off her, ‘proving’ she is not a racist. The tension between the two is palpable as they navigate their partnership amidst all this plus personal opinions of each other, whilst trying to catch a murderer.
This was a good read and the characters really come to life. The crime-scene and police investigation is detailed in a way which reeks of authenticity as though the author has experience or has done their research. It reads like watching an episode of a tv serial.
The murder mystery too was well-done. “They won’t get away with it anymore”. This note is all Sarah and Angels have to go on for the first murder. Now they have to figure it all out and uncover the killer. I loved following along as they look for clues, question suspects and all this while Sarah is dealing with the psychological trauma of having killed someone in the line of duty.
This novel feels very timely in the wake of recent police shootings of blacks in the US and shows us this scenario from the viewpoint of the officer instead of the victim. I liked seeing the possible impact on Sarah and how it affected her ability to assess subsequent situations. The murder mystery and the investigation leading up to a standoff with the suspect was written in such a way as to keep the reader in the dark about the identity of the suspect up until the last few chapter which I appreciated as it helps to keep one interested and invested in the story.
Unfortunately, I didn’t much care for Angels’s characterisation. She comes off as practically paranoid. She doesn’t really give Sarah a chance but has all these preconceived notions and let these get in the way of their partnership. That is not to say that she is a bad person, I just thought she was written as a very judgemental person. Also, the department seemed to clear Sarah of that shooting really quickly without even a mandatory psychological evaluation. If not for Angel talking her down a couple times, she might even have ended up with another shooting on her record. I sincerely hope the reality is nothing like this.
Overall, Open Season is a well-written engaging crime novel which also deals with the building up of trust and understanding between persons that seem to have nothing in common for a common goal and I recommend i to anyone who loves a good police procedural and are fans of shows like Law & Order.