by Pat Browning
At the end of this review are details on how to enter to win a copy of the book in this series just before No Bells, Angel Lost.
A cop’s life isn’t all gunfire, sirens and squealing tires. In F.M. Meredith’s No Bells, cops in a small Southern California beach community knock on doors the old-fashioned way. Investigating a murder, they suspect and question everyone who knew the victim.
No Bells reminds me of Barney Miller, a low-key but thoroughly entertaining 1970s TV series. The setting was a squad room of New York City’s fictional 12th Precinct, located in Greenwich Village, with an ensemble cast working separately and together. In that small, confined setting the viewer got to know the players.
It’s the same in No Bells, with an ensemble cast in a small setting that lets you get to know the players. Meredith takes her time unfolding the story, with careful attention to detail. In this community where nobody’s business is really private, the answers are there for the asking. The trick is to ask the right questions. At the same time, the cops struggle to maintain some semblance of a home life.
Even in an ensemble some characters stand out. A female cop named Stacey is brought into the case because her feminine intuition picks up on the bits and pieces of human behavior. It pays off. A witness almost everyone overlooks provides damning clues when Stacey gains his confidence.
The most sympathetic character is Officer Gordon Butler, a hard-luck cop who gets calls ranging from an underwear thief who poops on a dining room table to a seagull who swoops into a beach bar and dive bombs the customers. Gordon’s wife left him for another officer, and his new lady love is a suspect in the murder case. He’s willing to risk his job, his friends and his life to prove her innocence.
I was smiling when I closed the book, and I do love an ending that makes me smile.
To enter to win a copy of Angel Lost, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Angel”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 16, 2012. U.S. residents only.