“All hell broke loose the last time we sat on a deck like this drinking beer, contemplating doing something stupid for the right reason….” – William Mark
William Mark’s Crossing the Blue Line is the sort of book that some magazines would put into their lists of “great beach reads.” It’s a fast paced, high energy narrative about crooked cops – on both sides of what is known in police jargon as “the blue line.” What sets Mark’s book apart from most such novels is that he gives us crooked cops who take the law into their own hands for the right as well as for the wrong reasons.
Dylan Akers and Beau Rivers, the heroes of Mark’s previous work in this emerging series, are both on thin ice with their superiors at the Tallahassee PD when the novel opens. Both have been demoted and moved to backwater assignments (Akers, a top homicide detective, has been made head of a dead end division of the department; Rivers, the epitome of the “loose cannon” type, has been given an even more dead end assignment) as punishment for having committed a crime that can’t (seemingly) be proven against them: the execution of two criminals who raped and murdered Dylan’s young daughter.
Note I said “seemingly” above. There are those in the department who are working diligently to get the goods on Akers and Rivers – but their motives are less than pure. In the meantime, Antonio Toombs, a disgraced former cop who has just been released from prison for being involved in the drug trade decides to get revenge on those who sent him up – which includes Beau Rivers – by setting up a violent drug ring in Tallahassee.
Things come to a head when Tallahassee’s new police chief, Robert Shaw, figures out how to get the truth about what Dylan Akers and Beau Rivers did. In order to combat Toombs’ drug organization, he forces them to form a secret task force with two other officers including another gifted detective named Chance Parker. The task force, which has carte blanche to do whatever is necessary to stop the wave of violent crime being promulgated, take on the task with grit and flair.
Complicating this dangerous assignment is a personal dilemma that faces Beau Rivers and Dylan Akers’ wife Wendy. Yep, the classic love triangle. Creating even more tension is the fact that Wendy is expecting a child – and is unsure if the baby’s father is Dylan or Beau.
The unraveling of all this – the romantic complexities of Dylan’s, Beau’s and Wendy’s relationships, the breaking of Antonio Coombs’ violent drug ring and the dangers attendant to that assignment, the potential ruin of Akers’ and Rivers’ careers (not to mention their prosecution and imprisonment for the killing of Dylan’s daughter’s murderers) – makes for engrossing reading. Mark moves the narrative along quickly, and readers will appreciate both his keen knowledge of police procedure (both official and unofficial). Like his earlier Lost in the Darkness, Mark delivers a fast paced, compelling read.
Crossing the Blue Line may not be on any of those “best beach read” lists. But it ought to be.