In this sequel to “Random Victim” Sergeant Francisco Leal is more than a little annoyed that his partner, Olivia (Ollie) Hart isn’t back working with him. Instead, when she isn’t working for her upcoming competition as a female body builder, she is stuck on some sort of special detail over in Robertsville, Illinois. Years of corruption have caused the local police force to be dismissed, and for now until the first class graduates from the academy, Cook County Sheriff’s Police are pulling patrol duty in Robertsville.


That leaves Leal running a major surveillance operation involving a snitch without help that he can really count on. The snitch, known as the “Lip” is supposed to make a controlled buy in front of Leal and his team. With the snitch being closely connected to a powerful and very successful drug dealer there is potential of rolling up quite an operation. Unfortunately for Leal and the snitch, the snitch’s cover is blown and he is killed. This sparks retaliation and despite numerous characters and many storylines, eventually Leal and Hart begin to deal with the escalating turf war.


A police officer himself, Michal Black clearly knows his subject well and uses every detail and nuance possible in the novel. An extremely slow moving police procedural, the read spends considerable time off on various secondary storylines where readers are subjected to often actions and characters that have little or nothing to do with the main storyline of the execution murder of the snitch, politics and the drug war. Such sideways trips far from the main storyline have the capacity to bore the reader considerably who should be forgiven for frequently muttering “get on with it.”


When Author Michael A. Black focuses on the main storyline in “Hostile Takeovers” he delivers a solid tale which somewhat salvages the book despite being devoid of human emotion. Even the health scare of Olivia which is a classic cliché and should bring out some realistic character emotion for the reader comes across entirely flat.  In this case and others throughout the meandering novel, the characters spend considerable amounts of time telling readers how they feel with little time actually showing readers real human emotion. There is a distant flat quality of writing throughout the 353 novel that reminds one of the sterility of reading a law document.


Despite the theoretically complimentary comparison to Joseph Wambaugh in some reviews, the only thing these two authors actually in common is that they both use their law enforcement backgrounds to write police procedurals. Regarding character development, use of plotlines and emotions, as well as style of writing and a myriad of other issues, these two authors are as opposite as they possibly could be. Such a contrived positive comparison does a huge disservice to both authors with readers hurt by making buying and reading decisions based on such faulty comparisons.


Hostile Takeovers: A Leal And Hart Novel

Michael A. Black

Leisure Books (Dorchester Publishing Co., Inc)

ISBN# 0-8439-6272-0

Mass Market Paperback

353 Pages



Book provided by PJ Nunn, publicist and owner of BreakThrough Promotions in exchange for my objective review.


Kevin R. Tipple © 2009


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