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THE DIME by Kathleen Kent: Book Review

What happens when you transplant a tough, lesbian, third-generation detective from Brooklyn to Dallas?  You get a woman who knows how to handle sexual harassment, violent drug dealers, and uppity real estate brokers, that’s what happens.

Elizabeth Rhyzyk, known to all as Betty, comes from a family with deep roots in the New York City Police Department.  Her grandfathers, father, uncle, and brother were all members of the Department, but she is the first woman in the family to join.  She’s compiled an outstanding record of arrests, but when the last member of her family dies she moves to Dallas, the home of her lover Jackie’s family.

Not that Jackie’s mother, grandmother, aunts, and uncles welcome this Northern transplant.  They blame her for corrupting Jackie into this “alternative” lifestyle, and Betty is finding it as difficult to be with them as it is to deal with the influx of drugs that is creating a war between the homegrown gangsters and the Mexican cartels, with bodies littering the Texas landscape.

A carefully planned surveillance by Betty’s narcotics team is interrupted by a well-meaning woman, and it ends with three people dead–the woman, the drug dealer the detectives are trying to arrest, and a local cop who has nothing to do with the anticipated arrest.  It leaves Betty and the other members of the team struggling to deal with the violent ending to what should have been a peaceful major drug bust.

The tentacles of the drug trade are nothing new in the city, but the violence is beyond what the Dallas police have been used to.  Betty is familiar with hazards at work, but now it’s becoming personal.  While she’s out jogging in the early morning, someone comes into the double-locked apartment that she and Jackie share and leaves a bizarre souvenir on Betty’s side of the bed, all without waking her sleeping partner.  And things escalate from there.

Kathleen Kent has written a spectacular first novel.  I’m a little late in coming to The Dime, since it’s already been nominated for an Edgar® for the Best Novel by the Mystery Writers of America, but I totally agree with the nomination.  The writing is excellent, the plot original, and the characters are great creations.  Betty’s Dallas narcotics team is totally believable, as is her relationship with Jackie.  The reality of creating a loving homosexual relationship in a not-very-accepting community is made clear, when even something as mundane as trying to place an order in a restaurant can prove to be a difficult experience.

You can read more about Kathleen Kent at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden Oldies, Past Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.

 

 

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