A JIM NESBITT REVIEW of
Bruce Robert Coffin’s BEYOND THE TRUTH is a gritty and relentless tale of Detective Sergeant John Byron and his squad of Portland, Maine police investigators on the trail of truth about one of their own — Officer Sean Haggerty, who in the pursuit of two robbers shoots one while the other gets away.
The dead robber turns out to be a high school student and star basketball player. Haggerty thought he saw the muzzle flash of a gun before he fired. No gun is found on the scene and the second robber has disappeared like a ghost.
This sets the stage for a pressure-packed case that cranks up a media frenzy, angry protesters and nasty political infighting within the department and with a mayor determined to score points at police expense to further her political career.
At first, all signs point to bad shoot, which will ruin Haggerty’s career and leave an indelible black mark on the department. But Byron is a grinder who doggedly pushes his squad to dig deeper to find the hidden truth — be it the missing gun and second robber or confirmation that Haggerty shot an unarmed teenager. To lead his squad, Byron must compartmentalize his friendship with Haggerty and his duty to get to the bottom of this case. That’s just the first of many turns of the screw on Byron’s emotions.
It gets worse. An FBI agent lets Byron know that Haggerty, who is also the high school’s resource officer, is a suspect in an ongoing bureau drug case. All leads continue to lead to nowhere. The public’s fury builds. Then Haggerty is shot in a drive-by hit ordered up by convict doing time in the state pen — a bad hombre Haggerty put behind bars.
Although Coffin’s latest book is labeled a police procedural, at heart it is a mystery told from the cop’s point of view. The author is a former detective who uses his experience to tell a realistic tale of a high-profile police investigation — without histrionics, but with the unstoppable momentum of a freight train.
There’s plenty of action and knowing details about political infighting and the emotional toll paid by the officers investigating this case. But to find out the meaning of the title, you’re going to have to pick up a copy of Coffin’s latest. You won’t be disappointed and you’ll probably buy his other books.
Jim Nesbitt is the author of three hard-boiled Texas crime thrillers, The Right Wrong Number, The Last Second Chance and The Best Lousy Choice. All three are available in paperback or Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/author/jimnesbitt.