Without Fear Or Favor
Here’s a new bent for this blog. Some perceptive internet-person sent me a book in exchange for a review. Words for words? Seems like an equivalent exchange. Thus this: Jack Catchem.com’s first book review: “Without Fear or Favor” by Robert K. Tanenbaum. (I received no cash for this review, just a free book. Which is like a free drink for an alkie.)
JackCatchem is about cops…So is “Without Fear Or Favor!” It is written by a former District Attorney (the prosecutors who charge the bad guys) and it shows. You can imagine this book as a Law and Order style story; 1/2 police case 1/2 trial. It’s all good, but Tanenbaum truly shines when he lets his inner lawyer out in the second half. If you’ve ever been interviewed on a stand, you’ll be able to tell Tanenbaum is fighting out this legal case in his mind as assuredly as Christian Cameron (a fanatical medieval re-enactor and modern author) has spent a few hundred hours fighting men in armor. The detail is visceral, real, and believable as this subject matter expert is writing what he knows.
But why should a cop and those that are interested in them read this book? Because although a delightful pulp piece of fiction, the current issue of the War on Cops is part and parcel of the plot. Tragically prescient of the Officer Familia case, a cop is murdered as part of the War on Cops and New York City threatens to fall apart as *gasp* the media makes things worse by chasing the ratings and stimulate further outrages by both cops and suspects. Don’t let the broad strokes tempt you away from it, it is honestly a good read worth accruing the details. Tanenbaum is a New York Times Bestselling author for a reason.
I appreciated the cops in the novel were also presented as a real mix of people. You have a golden boy victim, a nervous young cop, plenty of lazy ones, some good ones…essentially any roll call ever. It accurately depicts the author’s contacts with the Policing world and I think other officers would be happy to read it.
I heartily recommend this book to other cops for three reasons. Entertainment is one, for those that cannot get enough of their craft. There is also an element of Edu-tainment. If you are thinking of switching over to the lawyer side of the law, detective side of the force, or forensics, this will give you an accurate portrayal of what each side is after in that silly game we call “court.” The DA wants to convict, the defense release, the judge be fair (for further promotions), and the barking seal experts want another gig. Finally, its nice to see someone articulate, with a tale, the strain of policing a victimized minority of a society when that part of society is being egged on to strike back at the blue line for the sake of ratings.
You can also find a good underlying theme of vigilantism vs. rule of law, but not in any heavy handed Batman fashion. Its more subtle and may be part of a larger story arc. I understand Tanenbaum has written many more in this series than “Without Fear Or Favor” (this was my first introduction) and it may be tied to that.
This book is different from my normal past time reading, but its 370 pages was still an enjoyable read for an afternoon (I have a problem, I know). The vernacular is swift and accurate for each character, and Tanenbaum usually avoids the lawyer’s proclivity for verbosity admirably.
I read it and you should too if you want to enjoy a fictional yet prescient story of cops, criminals, and a prosecutor dancing through the politics with considerably more grace and even handed passion than has been on display in Baltimore and Chicago of late. As I said, its a good story set in the wildest of times: right now. Do you want to understand the War on Cops without checking Wikipedia? Check out “Without Fear Or Favor.”
I had a good time reading the book and the contact who sent me the book hinted the author may be available for an interview. There’s a few things I myself would like to know more about, so I’ll give them a shot. Check back in a few weeks, maybe we will have another first, an interview with Robert K. Tanenbaum.
Readers: this is a chance to change the direction of this blog. Like book reviews, hate them, couldn’t care less? Let me know in the comments below. Additionally, if you have any questions, I’ll happily include them in my written interview request to the publisher.