Broken Places by Tracy Clark


First in series – Chicago Mystery featuring Cass Raines.

Cass was a Chicago cop until the ego-driven actions of a bad cop forced her to shoot a young black kid.  The incident didn’t cause her to resign – the commendation she received for her actions did.  Now, she’s a private investigator still dealing with the guilt. One of her biggest supporters if Father Ray, a priest she calls “Pop” because he became her stand-in father when her real father abandoned her after Cass’s mother died from cancer.

Pop wants to hire Cass to look into a series of minor acts of vandalism around the church.  Before she can even get started, Pop is dead and it looks like he killed an intruder – another young black kid – before killing himself.  The cop assigned to the case is ready to close it but Cass cannot accept that scenario and undertakes her own investigation.

Cass is an authentic African-American female cop in Chicago.  Though she’s no longer on the force, she still acts like a cop and works (guardedly) with her former partner to piece together the pieces of the mystery that she painstakingly tracks down.  Their relationship is completely unromantic – Ben is more like an older brother or uncle to Cass – and they share a sense of humor as well as a commitment to the ethical aspects of police work.  Minor surrounding characters are not well-developed but have the potential to be fleshed-out and the author has many interesting avenues she could explore with Cass’s character in the future.

A solid murder mystery investigation, an appealing lead character, authentic setting, and a narrative that dips into psychological, emotional, and social issues.