Friday, February 11, 2005

Cell Damage by Dave Case

"Cell Damage" by Dave Case, Hardluck Stories, Winter 2005

Another series in the making - and that's a good thing.

John Pope and Maggie Gallagher are members of the Special Operations Section of the Chicago Police. That section contains the most aggressive officers in the Department, which explains some of the actions in this story.

Pope and Gallagher are partners, almost as widely divided in age as they are in gender. Pope takes Gallagher to breakfast at one of his favorite joints. When they get there, they find the crime scene cops present. It seems that the owner, arriving to open the restaurant, found a dead man on his floor. The detective that caught the case, Freddy Lode, is holding the owner, Gus, a friend of Pope's, with the intention of charging him with murder. Gus says that he didn't kill the man, but he has tested positive for gunshot residue.

Pope and Gallagher hit the streets searching for a viable alternative killer. Along the way they identify the corpse. He was Gus's granddaughter's boyfriend; at least he was before he raped her. That gives Gus a motive for killing the man.

The two cops then start canvassing the neighborhood. They find witnesses that saw an ice cream truck and three unfamiliar men behind the restaurant before Gus arrived. The three men had entered the restaurant, but only two came out. Further investigation, one lead taking them to the next, leads them to the real culprits and a gunfight.

At the end, Pope reasons out why there was GSR on Gus' hand. A nice little twist.

The story is well written and very believable, which makes sense because Mr. Case is a Chicago cop and a member of the SOS. I liked the interaction between Pope and Gallagher, though Gallagher's tongue action (read the story yourself!) might be a little over the top.

In short, I'm looking forward to the next installment.