A fast-paced detective story by a local author
December 27, 2007
OK, heres the scoop: A hard-bitten, hard-drinking, chain-smoking, foul-mouthed Denver detective takes a sucker punch to the emotional gut when a family in protective custody dies horribly in a car bombing while the detective and partner sip coffee in the street less than 100 yards away.The same detective, along with the same partner, almost immediately get called in on a case in which a couple, man and wife, get slashed to pieces in their living room while their 9-year-old daughter crouches in a closet upstairs. The daughter remembers nothing of the murder, though her footprints are discovered in the pools of her parents blood, and her bloody handprint is found on the railing leading upstairs.The detective is baffled by the case, and even more baffled by strange, disconnected mental images that seem to predict gruesome scenes that have not yet happened.The detective, whose drinking is getting seriously close to requiring intervention, spends the night with the little girl in her house, in hopes the girl will remember something and spill it. But the detective freaks out and bolts, a social-service matron who takes over watching the girl is brutally murdered, and the attacker narrowly misses getting the girl too.Sounds like one of those potboilers about a grizzled old coot with a badge and a gun, out to either drink himself to death or save the world, whichever comes first, right?Well, in this case the detectives name is Jane Perry, shes got a serious case of mental dislocation from childhood traumas, and she has psychic tendencies. Not psycho, or psychotic, but psychic she can sense the thoughts of others. And she finds herself unwillingly placed as the target-du-jour, tasked with keeping the little girl alive in case she remembers something.The book, Protector, runs 371 pages, although Glenwood Springs author Laurel Dewey reports that it was a lot longer in an early draft. Its her first novel and it took her two years to write, a good third of which was spent with cops and other professionals to get the tone and flavor right.And it keeps the reader wondering just whats going to happen next, especially after Detective Perry and the girl, Emily Lawrence, are relocated to a town called Peachville, situated on the western side of McClure Pass and sounding a lot like real-life Paonia. This relocation happens after the attempt on the girls life, when Perry trusts no one, not even her superiors on the Denver police force.In an aside, on the trip to Peachville, Dewey takes a page from Alfred Hitchcock by having Perry and Emily stop in Glenwood Springs, where Emily gazes longingly into the business that Deweys husband runs in real life.Protector is a fast-paced romp, though sometimes a little over the top. Dewey occasionally overplays the psychic-connection theme, Perrys mental acrobatics on booze and her internal angst, or the pop-analysis of her childhood troubles.But it reads quickly, does not falter, and the reader is not quite sure who the true bad guys are until nearly the end.Dewey, who has been a freelance writer in the Roaring Fork Valley for a number of years, says there is a sequel coming.