June 30, 2015

'Doing the Devil's Work' - a novel with good and bad cops

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana - Female characters sometimes suffer badly at the hands of male authors. It's something I am struggling with right now, drafting a novel called Jack's Boat. The first half of the book centers around a female character, the second half a male lead.

It's complicated.

But in Bill Loehfelm's Doing the Devil's Work, he pulls it off nicely with a female police officer in New Orleans who is tough, human, and above all honest. It's hard to imagine Maureen Coughlin involved in any of the wildly awful incidents we see posted on YouTube too often of police going rogue.

The character of Maureen Coughlin made her first appearance in Loehflem's earlier book, The Devil She Knows, a novel on my list to read soon.

But in Doing the Devil's Work the author has Coughlin fight against police corruption, racism, militants, cop haters and ultra-wealthy socialites of post Katrina New Orleans who believe they can do no wrong. There's drugs, money, danger, and definitely some violence.

It is a mystery cop book.

What makes the main character so intriguing is that she is flawed but recognizes it. Her struggles become the reader's as you make your way through the chapters.

Bill Loehflem

I wish she smoked fewer cigarettes, but that's part of that flaw thing.

Several times in Doing the Devil's Work, I thought that the author might be making his female cop just a little too tough - too male. But just as I thought that, the scene would shift and it would become obvious that any cop - male or female - would have to be that tough to survive.

Recommended reading. And on the new book shelf at the Watkins Glen Public Library.

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