cover image Hard Bargain: A Cat Marsala Mystery

Hard Bargain: A Cat Marsala Mystery

Barbara D'Amato. Scribner Book Company, $21 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-684-83353-8

Investigative reporter Cat Marsala has a love-hate relationship with the top cops in the scandal-plagued Chicago police department, but as this speedy and intriguing mystery graphically illustrates, she's more than a match for them. Local newspapers are having a field day with the high-profile case of Shelly Daniello, a female police officer who killed an abusive husband as he was stabbing his wife. But the wife was Shelly's sister, and the husband was a much-respected police officer. Cat's longtime friend, the African American chief of detectives Harold McCoo, is heading the investigation and asks for her aid as he faces harsh charges of a coverup. Is there more spousal abuse by police officers? Did Shelly kill for revenge? Has evidence been planted? This is an election year, and politics dominate not only the mayoral race but also the police department, and McCoo fears he is about to be discredited and ousted in a power play. Cat, relentless and shrewd, conducts a spate of interviews with the top brass: the first deputy, second only to the superintendent, is a ""glad-handing loudmouth""; another top cop inspires in Cat unprintable comments. After discovering that leaks to the press are coming from McCoo's own office, Cat finds herself in grave danger. With its distinctly Chicago atmosphere (gritty but livable) this tale, the seventh in D'Amato's series (after Hardball), is edgy, surprising and spiced with rich characterizations. (Sept.)