In a thriller set in Newberg, Wisconsin, small-town police corruption meets the intricately plotted revenge of a criminal bent on a reign of terror on those who sent him to prison years before. After a stint with the Oakland Police Department in northern California, a moment of weakness--unsurprisingly caught on camera--has left Ben Sawyer in disgrace.
He returns to his Wisconsin roots and an assignment in the department formerly run by his father-in-law, Lars Norgaard. Felled by a stroke, Norgaard is no longer able to serve in the capacity of Police Chief
and has been replaced by Walter Jorgenson.
As a sergeant, Sawyer is effectively marginalized by Jorgenson and his top narcotics detective, Doyle McKenzie, painfully aware that those around him are all too familiar with the debacle in Oakland. While Sawyer’s wife,
his childhood sweetheart Alex, visits her ex-Chief Norgaard daily at his expensive convalescent home and twelve-year-old son Jake dreams of returning to California, Sawyer endures the thinly veiled sarcasm of fellow officers who have yet to accept him. Doyle McKenzie
is a practiced antagonist, pushing Ben at every opportunity, secure in his position as the chief’s right-hand man. Ever on the lookout for opportunity, McKenzie uses his position to line his pockets and increase his reputation as a man to be feared.
The chaos begins quietly, with only a slight ripple as a paroled ex-con orchestrates a scenario that leads to the arrest of a man in a position of authority.
The target’s denouement is swift and final. Not far away, another powerful man, also connected to the perpetrator’s past, is arrested for the murder of his wife. Obscure and separate events in different police jurisdictions, these cases fly under the radar.
Only Chief Jorgenson is alert to rumblings that threaten his profitable and well-oiled fiefdom, one which has allowed McKenzie to exploit his position as a narcotics detective and make a tidy profit on the side. While ostensibly taking orders from a man careful to shield himself from blame, Doyle is often distracted by his gnawing greed and the arrogance that defines his demeanor towards others, especially women and minorities, people he harasses and insults with impunity.
Ben Sawyer suffers the weight of his family’s troubles after his moment of personal challenge in Oakland, but it is easier to avoid his wife and son than face the fallout of their disappointment. With only the good will of the new chief’s secretary and patrol officer Tina Suarez to keep him from the despair that threatens to overwhelm him, Ben controls his temper in the face of McKenzie’s barbed insults, intending to repair his relationship with Alex.
Any degree of normalcy is shattered the night fellow officers storm his home and arrest Alex for the murder of a local bookstore owner, a friend she has made since returning to Newberg. On his knees in the mud in the pouring rain outside the house, Ben comforts his sobbing son, staring helplessly as Alex is driven away by a smirking McKenzie. Now Ben’s fight to save his wife--and their future--truly begins, a daunting task with the odds stacked against him.
Griffin’s thriller is tightly plotted, Sawyer forced outside the parameters of his authority to save Alex from a life behind bars. The action is swift, brutal, and often discouraging for a man who has lost the inside track afforded by his badge. Suarez
is able to contribute before being cut down in an escalating nightmare where every action is met by a formidable wall of silence from the monolithic facade of the justice system. Good guys versus bad guys
is old school; this is a new world where murder masquerades as necessity and strange bedfellows align in mutual benefit. Big-city policing grows grim and dirty in small town-Newberg, Wisconsin, Sawyer in the fight of his life to reclaim his family and the dignity of a profession sullied by men too dulled by comfort and graft to recognize their reign is about to be toppled by two brave cops and an ex-con on a righteous mission.