It has been a little over two years since the events in Charlie-316 happened as Never The Crime: A Charlie-316 Novel begins. Spokane Police Officer Gary Stone works on the seventh floor of city hall in a job that easily could be more dangerous to his long-term survival than being on a high-risk weapons team kicking in doors and chasing bad guys. Designated as a “Special Problems Officer” by the police chief, he serves as a sort of liaison between the mayor and the chief of police. Both are seeking to use him in various ways to gather intel and fulfill their own agendas. Much of that daily business is so routine, he does not think about it all that much.

Much of what Stone does is security and threat assessment. Politicians of all stripes get a lot of threats made against them. Some are meaningless. Others are not. Threats can be as dynamic and fluid as the politics behind every action.


One such situation occurs early in the read when Police Chief Robert Baumgartner gives him the letter he received from a seventeen-year-old girl by the name of Betty Rabe. She writes in her letter that she has been in some sort of intimate relationship with Spokane City Councilman Hahn. Not only is her married with two kids, his daughters are about his age. While legally, she was above the age of consent (16) when they became intimate and therefore, will probably dodge criminal charges on that aspect of things, politically his action will end his career should it become public. If all that was not bad enough, her letter goes on to imply that he, at some point more recently, sexually assaulted her.


The Chief says he got the letter from the Mayor who passed it on which means the Mayor knows as does the personal assistant of the Mayor. The Chief wants Stone to investigate the matter and to be very discreet about doing so. He wants Stone to, while telling no one including his direct superior, determine of an actual crime occurred or this is just a messy pollical problem. Stone is not to enter a report in the system or make any notes into the official records of the department. Instead, he is to handwrite a report and hand it directly to the Chief and only report to the Chief on the matter.


This is one of many political problems in this police procedural. Some problems are internal and not readily apparent. Others, like the case of Tyler Garrett, are out there for all to see even if not everyone really gets what happened then or is happening now.

Ultimately, this latest book in the series is far more about politics that surround police work than actual police work. Actual police work and actual crime take a bit of a backseat in Never The Crime: A Charlie 316 Novel. They are still there in significant ways at different points in the read, but not nearly as much as this reader expected. Repercussions in the short term and long term are a major focus here and can be more deadly than a dark street.


Never The Crime: A Charlie 316 Novel by Colin Conway and Frank Zafiro is a solidly good novel. Readers are strongly advised to read Charlie-316, the preceding novel, before this one as many of the same folks are back those events continue to shape people and events here in this read set more than two years later.



I received a digital ARC of this book from Frank Zafiro with no expectation of a review.



Kevin R. Tipple ©2020

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