Friday, May 18, 2012

Enemy in Blue: a tough story, a great read by a brave author

With Enemy in Blue, Derek Blass does what indie authors should do: he ignores conventions and tells a tough story the way it deserves to be told.

I don’t know why I’ve been reading so many cop stories lately. I’ve begun to notice that many of the authors seem to be trying to write an episode of their favourite cop TV show. They’re often formulaic and boring.

Enemy in Blue is anything but formulaic. It’s very cinematic in its set-up and description, but Blass does not worry about cop story conventions. I think that a creative writing teacher would tear it apart on the basis of its structure and some modern writing conventions that Blass defies. But he holds true to the only rule that matters: he tells a good story. I could not stop reading Enemy in Blue.

Quick synopsis: the story centres around a digital video. It begins with a camera-man for a TV show called Police—obviously referencing Cops. The camera-man follows a SWAT team into a spurious raid on a family home and records a brutal, racially-motivated murder of an old man by the SWAT commander. Immediately, the corrupt cop begins chasing down the video, and two other cops try just as hard to keep it away from him and the corrupt, racist Chief of Police.

The second part of the book deals with the trial of the murderer. Again, Blass breaks rules by introducing new major characters quite late in the story. But he manages to make them real people. You don’t necessarily like them, but you will recognize them from your own life.

Blass’s experience as a trial lawyer is evident in the detail from police and trial procedures. It never bogs down the story; instead, it adds believability. He’s not afraid to explode some myths about courtrooms perpetuated by TV shows. He’s also not afraid to hold a bright light to the racial divisions that still have such a huge effect on daily life for so many Americans.

There’s action, there’s romance, there’s details about guns for those interested in such things. In short, there’s a lot here to like.


Blass’s characterization of Max, the camera-man and Cruz Marquez are very good. Sandra Guiterrez, the beautiful TV anchor, though, came off a little flat—it would have been good to get to know a little more about her, particularly her failings. She was just too good.

And the Chief of Police was just too bad. Again, more details about him would have rounded out the character and made him more believable.

But Blass really deserves full marks for his villain, Sergeant Shaver. Blass made it easy for me to picture him, his bristly blond hair, his brutal musculature and his icy blue eyes. This is a truly memorable monster.


I liked the book, but I thought as I was reading it that it really could have used one more edit. Yes, I know you can say that about any book, and sometimes I think that of my own. But there were sentences that seemed awkward, or long, or too short. Still, this did not detract from the story at all.

This is a story that Americans, especially, need to read. Yes, it’s fiction, but it comes from a real place. As mentioned, there’s lots of action for the reader who wants a fast-paced cop drama; but the real value lies in Blass’s brave examination of blatant racism in the modern USA.


Enemy in Blue on Goodreads
Enemy in Blue on Amazon

1 comment:

  1. Excellent review. I'm all for any book that causes the reader to rethink blind allegiance to police forces. Racism is unfortunately very real. I deal with many of these issues in my novel, The Shining City on the Hill. Check it out