The Chicago Police Department says Samantha Mack shot her partner, Fred, during the confusion of a bungled pursuit. Mack says it was their quarry, a violent pedophile named Marco Trovic, who fired the deadly round in that darkened room. But Mack was knocked out and can’t really say what happened.
When no evidence of Trovic is found on the scene and the bullet is shown to have come from Mack’s own gun, the Department labels Fred’s death as a case of friendly fire.Back at the station, it seems no one believes Mack’s account. Not Internal Affairs investigator Alex O’Conner, and not even Mack’s lover, whose best attempts at support leave her as cold as the wind whipping across Lake Michigan.
With the Department looking to quiet the bad press, Mack can’t count on anyone to help her track down Trovic. Even if she can somehow find him in the dark recesses of Chicago’s underworld, can she prove that Trovic was the shooter? With her back to the wall and her career at stake, now it’s time for Mack to take matters into her own hands to clear her name—and avenge her partner’s death. Theresa Schwegel Officer Down is the winner of the 2006 Edgar Award for Best First Novel.
- Edgar Awards (Edgar Allan Poe Awards)
Schwegel's instantly engrossing debut crime novel begins with the bungled bust of child molester Marko Trovic: after Samantha "Smack" Mack, a chain-smoking, hard-drinking Chicago police officer, and her partner and ex-lover, Fred, storm a pitch-dark tenement house, Smack wakes later with a nasty concussion, but Fred, shot during the attempted arrest, never does. Police officials decree that Smack's "friendly fire" killed Fred, but she's sure there were others in the room with them that night. Reeling from her concussion, Smack is given administrative leave, but offered little support (or hope of commitment) from her married lover, detective Mason Imes. A determined Smack realizes busting Trovic will be her problem alone: a meddling Internal Affairs operative harasses her, the Sarge threatens to confiscate her badge and Mason says they're going to close the case. Persistence and detective work fueled by righteous rage lead Smack to a guilty informant and an elaborate drug ring supervised by an ever expanding cast of suspects, some much closer to her than she ever imagined. Smack's voice is rough and real, conveying both her tough cookie persona and the authentic emotions behind her street face. Schwegel's sympathetic protagonist and fast-paced action turns out an impressive, gripping first novel. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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October 30, 2006
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Excerpt from Officer Down by Theresa Schwegel
Chapter One nbsp; Normally, I avoid domestic disputes, but this girl is standing in the middle of my hallway, and she’s hitting herself in the head. With her own shoes. I could turn around, take the elevator back down to the lobby, and notify the doorman. But Omar knows I’m a cop. He’d send me right back up here. nbsp; She’s my next-door neighbor, unit 1612. Her name is Katie or Kathy or something cute that doesn’t quite fit, especially now. She’s a small girl with a lot of blond hair and a mouth even worse than mine. She lived here by herself when I moved in two years ago. The first time her late-night partying kept me up, I tried to be reasonable: I slipped a friendly note under her door. The next few times, I made official complaints to the Association. The last time, about a year ago, I invited my co-workers over. They busted her snorting coke with a couple suits from the Board of Trade. Since then, she never says hello. nbsp; “You’ll be fucking sorry when I’m fucking dead, you fucking asshole,” she yells, the profanities accentuated with a swift heel to her head. A forearm full of gold bracelets clinks, echoing her swing. I figure she’s high, but when she sees me she pauses, her arms midair, and her eyes are clear with conviction. I try to think of something to say. “Excuse me” doesn’t seem appropriate. I feel like I’m in her way. nbsp; She takes a step back, politely allowing me to pass, like this is an everyday thing. I stand there like an idiot. How can she be so serious when she looks so ridiculous? When I don’t take the opportunity to make a break for my place, she turns her attention, her yelling, and her shoes to the door. nbsp; “Did you hear what I said, you son of a bitch? Do you even care if I die?” nbsp; The door couldn’t care less. nbsp; I’ve heard her arguing with this guy through my adjoining living room wall for a few weeks now. Senseless, hurtful arguing. Arguing about arguing. One night after a double shift I thought I could sleep for a week and I didn’t sleep at all because I could hear them. What did you just say? Say it again. I dare you. I felt like a kid back home with my parents in the next room. And just like when I was a kid, I tried not to listen. I closed my eyes and tried to think about other things. I told myself it wasn’t my problem to solve. Back then it became my problem. Now, it’s right in the middle of my hallway. nbsp; “You think you can find someone better than me?” the girl asks. “Besides your mother?” Ouch. nbsp; When the girl gets no response, she starts assaulting the door with her shoes. I’m comforted it stands between them. nbsp; I look both ways. There’s no one else around, though I’m sure they’re all listening from inside their condos. Granted, that’s where most of them solve their own crises. nbsp; By now, the humor of the scene is wearing thin, even when one of her French-manicured fingernails pops off. It just adds insult to insult. nbsp; The girl keeps at it, and part of me wants to join her and yell at the guy too. I’m sure he’s guilty of something. I work with men. My best friends are men. I know how they operate. The guys who play games can go play them at a bowling alley as far as I’m concerned. nbsp; On the other hand, this girl hasn’t exactly worn a halo since we’ve been neighbors. It might not be my best move, but I decide to give this guy the benefit of the doubt. I get behind her and grab her arms to stop her from whacking me in the head. Surprisingly, she doesn’t resist me. Maybe