The Listener
Steve Copling
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Buy *The Listener: A Rush/Chinbroski Novel* online

The Listener: A Rush/Chinbroski Novel
Steve Copling
259 pages
February 2004
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Steve Copling does a commendable job in this debut novel. A veteran police officer, he has nailed the procedures, making the detectives in this story believable and the dialogue ring true.

Detectives Greg Rush and Rick Chinbrowski are called to an unusual crime scene where they find a woman dead in her bathtub. The killer has propped her up and positioned a cell phone against her ear. A note left at the scene is even more puzzling. It’s written in a strange dialect, and the detectives have no idea if the killer wrote it, or if someone else was at the woman’s home after the killer left. But if so, why?

They ultimately discover that there is another person tracking this killer. A woman contacts them and says she wants to help them catch the man, but it has to be on her terms. She has followed him from California to this suburb of Dallas and has gathered evidence that will help put him away, but she has to wait for the right time to give over the information.

The reason she has to wait is compelling to her, and the author does his best to make it believable, but it just doesn’t hold together. Likewise, the motivation for the killings is a bit of a stretch.

It’s too bad that Copling didn’t use his strengths as a storyteller on a more plausible plot. His narrative is rich in details that make time and place and people come alive. The pacing and timing are terrific. And he knows how to grab the reader in the first page:

“The woman was on a cell phone talking a whirlwind, free hand flying…The woman oozed money. And she had Enoch’s attention, which meant she’d be dead by midnight.”
So perhaps one can forgive a new writer that one mistake and go along for the ride.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2004

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