“He was pushing fifty, with a face life had chewed on, and long wisps of graying hair parted low on one side and combed over his balding pate.”
― Patricia Cornwell, Postmortem
Police procedural crime novels place the emphasis on investigative procedure. The investigative procedure often carried out by a police officer, a forensic scientist or someone closely associated with a police department- rather than the more traditional private investigator. Sometimes unlike traditional ‘whodunnits,’ the identity of the criminal is revealed at the start of the book, inverting the traditional narrative structure turning the readers’ interest in the book into a ‘how to catch em’. These novels attempt to correctly depict police activities, and procedure, and to accurately portray police-related topics such as interrogation, autopsies, gathering evidence and acting within existing real legal constraints.
Below is just a small sample of the books featured in this showcase. Enjoy.
Creole belle / James Lee Burke.Creole Belle
“Creole Belle finds Dave Robicheaux languishing in a New Orleans recovery unit since surviving a bayou shoot-out. The detective’s body is healing; it’s his morphine-addled mind that conjures spectral visions of Tee Jolie Melton, a young woman who in reality has gone missing. An iPod with an old blues song left by his bedside turns Robicheaux into a man obsessed… And as oil companies assign blame after an epic disaster threatens the Gulf’s very existence, Robicheaux unearths connections between tragedies both global and personal–and faces down forces that can corrupt and destroy the best of men.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Death at sea: Montalbano’s early cases / Andrea Camilleri; translated by Stephen Sartarelli.
“A collection of mysteries, from the title story, Death at Sea, in which the alleged manslaughter of an engineer upon a fishing trawler leads Inspector Montalbano to uncover an even more sinister crime, Andrea Camilleri takes his readers through eight cunning cases from the Vigàtan police files. Starting with an arson attack on a hotel that leaves the distraught owner as the chief suspect; to the mysterious case of a woman who goes missing in an underpass with a million lira in her handbag; to a threat on Montalbano’s own life, as an anonymous motorcyclist takes a shot at the detective.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The cleaner / Paul Cleave.The Cleaner
“Three-letter word for omniscient being, middle letter O. Joe. After all, Joe is in control of everything in his simple life, including both his day job at the police department and his ‘night work’. Nor is he bothered by the daily news reports of the Christchurch Carver, who, they say, murdered seven women. But Joe knows the Carver only killed six. He knows that for a fact. And Joe is going to find that copy-cat killer, he’s going to punish him for the one, then frame him for the other six. It’s a perfect plan because he already knows he can outwit the police.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Scarpetta / Patricia Cornwell.
“Leaving behind her forensic pathology practice in South Carolina, Kay Scarpetta takes up an assignment in New York City, where the NYPD has asked her to examine an injured patient in a psychiatric ward. The handcuffed and chained patient, Oscar Bane, has specifically asked for her, and when she literally has her gloved hands on him, he begins to talk – and the story he has to tell turns out to be one of the most bizarre she has ever heard. He says his injuries were sustained in the course of a murder, that he did not commit. ” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Last bus to Woodstock / Colin Dexter.
“The death of Sylvia Kaye figured dramatically in Thursday afternoon’s edition of the Oxford Mail. By Friday evening, Inspector Morse had informed the nation that the police were looking for a dangerous man – facing charges of wilful murder, sexual assault and rape. But as the obvious leads fade into twilight and darkness, Morse becomes more and more convinced that passion holds the key.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The Black Dahlia / James Ellroy.
“Los Angeles, 1st January 1947- a beautiful young woman walked into the night and met her horrific destiny. Five days later, her tortured body was found drained of blood and cut in half. The newspapers called her ‘The Black Dahlia’. Two cops are caught up in the investigation and embark on a hellish journey that takes them to the core of the dead girl’s twisted life.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The fire engine that disappeared / Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö.
“A dingy Stockholm apartment house under police surveillance blows up in an explosion that kills at least three people. Martin Beck doesn’t suspect arson or murder until he discovers a peculiar link with suicide that same day.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Bound / Vanda Symon.
“A brutal home invasion shocks the nation. A man is murdered, his wife bound, gagged and left to watch. But when Detective Sam Shephard scratches the surface, the victim, a successful businessman, is not all he seems to be. And when the evidence points to two of Dunedin’s most hated criminals, the case seems cut and dried… until the body count starts to rise. Meanwhile, Sam is in big trouble again.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)