Read the full review online here, along with an interview with Connie Dial. Ms. Dial’s writing is precise, efficient, and straightforward. This police procedural is not only about finding who did it and their motives, but it offers deep insights in the internal politics of the LAPD Hollywood Division, the life of Josie, her difficult relationship with her husband and her son. Ms. Dial, a 27-year veteran of the LAPD has first-hand experience in investigations. Her dialogue is sharp, her descriptions are brilliant and the storyline flows quite well. It reminded me of Michael Connelly’s work, but without all the grit and the gloom that are his trademark.
Newly promoted Police Captain Josie Corsino of the Hollywood Division LAPD has her hands full in Fallen Angels by Connie Dial. She has seen many corpses during her twenty-one years with the Los Angeles Police, but never that of a person shot dead with a smile on her face. The reason for that smile is the first of many elusive pieces of information Josie must track down during the course of her investigation. Connie Dial takes the reader into a world where police business is handled at its highest level. Josie Corsino is a seasoned professional who knows every aspect of her job including its political ramifications She works long, hard, unglamorous hours, drinks too much, carries a gun at all times and uses it when necessary and is far from being a dutiful wife. In these and other ways, she is a certain kind of modern, mature woman. Josie may not be everyone’s cup of tea but she is realistic, and readers will be able to recognize parts of themselves in her.
Ms. Dial writes with the authority that comes from 27 years on this police force, and she brings the viewpoint of both female cop and newly promoted captain to the story through the voice of her main character, Josie Corsino…. This is what gives Fallen Angels its insidious quality. While the story, like most crime novels, is focused on the who-done-it-and-how plotline, each scene has an emotional subtext that seeps into the reader’s heart and mind. It feels like we’re implanted in Josie’s head or riding around on her shoulder, getting an up close and personal view of life as a real captain of a real police force dealing with the dark side of human nature.
I thoroughly enjoyed and more importantly appreciated the first two mysteries [Internal Affairs and The Broken Blue Line] written by Connie Dial. As with past novels, Connie Dial exposes corrupt police officers, shady dealings and poor police work. Her vast experience in narcotics, undercover surveillance and Internal Affairs surveillance glows through the pages. It makes the novel much stronger, deeper. Dial knows L.A. and police work rather intimately and it shows throughout this mystery. As soon as I got confused along came a sentence or paragraph to bring things back into focus. Dial focuses on a woman as main character, Captain Josie Corsino. Extremely disciplined despite disorder in her personal life, Josie puts all her effort and time into her work. Josie’s son is a not-so-far-successful musician and her husband, a former prosecutor, left to pursue private practice and personal space from their marriage… Behind the scenes of a police officer’s life never gets old. Thus mystery/thriller remains a popular genre–Law & Order and CSI remain highly watched television programs not to mention 48 Hours. Dial hits on after-hours, cops’ marriages, working off-duty, office politics and daily minutiae. Fallen Angels unravels in a slow, steady spiral.
Connie Dial masterfully writes a compelling thriller. She draws on personal experiences, giving the reader a true glimpse into the world of policing and the corruption that is unfortunately a part of the system. She keeps her readers engaged and guessing at the identity of the killer until the reveal.
Two ex-cops are currently turning out mysteries centering on the LAPD’s Hollywood Division: Joe Wambaugh, who left the job fairly early after establishing the genre of gutsy, raucous police procedurals, and Connie Dial, who retired as commanding officer of the Hollywood Division after 27 years, including patrol, undercover, and narcotics work. Wambaugh gives readers a totally wild ride, often veering off into tangentially related war stories and cop humor, careening back into plot limits just in time. Dial’s ride (this is her third novel) is much more controlled when it comes to obeying conventional limits with plot and characters…. As with Wambaugh, the great thing about Dial is that readers know her take on the LAPD and the craziness of Hollywood crime is based on long reflection.
A veteran cop herself, Dial (The Broken Blue Line, 2010, etc.) does authenticity to the max, and readers will like that. But it’s tough, vulnerable, never-say-die Josie that they’ll love.
Verdict: Dial writes with the knowledge and procedural minutiae of the insider she once was. And she bolsters her novel’s feminist credentials (not to mention the integrity of the storytelling and plot) with another strong realistic female protagonist, Lt. Marge Bailey. Authentic, well paced, and deftly written, this is a great addition to the police procedural crime fiction subgenre.