Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 17 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

Charlie 316 opens as a book about a black cop using deadly force against a white drug addict, and the consequences that unfold. Mysteries about the shooting appear, and the media, the mayor, and the cops office are all heavily involved. The book is supposed to be about an innocent man clearing his name.

This is a review that I take no pleasure in writing. It starts well enough: the authors seem educated in the matters at hand. The media presence in Black Lives Matter and other isolated topics is toxic, as well as the way politics insert itself into these issues. The way that some incidents are dramatized and some are swept under the rug seem to have no rhyme or reason, and they do a lot more harm than good towards the causes they are championing. However, this book is written in a way that's underhanded, ignorant, and isolating.

Charlie 316 opened in a way that I found intriguing and interesting. It changes perspectives every chapter, much like The Maltese Falcon, and had the same hard-boiled grit that classic noirs have. However, I had my reservations. During the media showdown and the investigation of the main character, the writing became very reserved and methodical. I did my research, and the authors are both former police that “write about their experiences first hand.” The characters and unwinding plot were interesting enough for me to continue.

However, the “plot twist” came, and it suddenly turned from a nail-biting suspense to a force-feeding about ideals that are, in the end, racist. I am not saying that people of color are incapable of terrible things, and I'm certainly not saying that Black Lives Matter and other racial movements cannot be abused. However, a book is a mode of art. In art, if an author's goal is controversy, then all races, cultures, and sides must be represented fairly. The only people of color in this book that have any impact on the plot are the main character, a conspiracy theorist nicknamed “The Honey Badger,” and four Hispanics who are drug dealers and participants in statutory rape. Does this sound like fair representation?

To add insult to injury, reading this book was kinda like the Avengers: Infinity War movie. To add on this inane topic, character development and plot vanished in a puff of smoke. Characters we related to and cheered for turned into robots in order to accelerate the authors' agenda. They became two-dimensional, cardboard victims, and naturally, they were all white. The conspiracy theorist was played for a fool, which is all well and fine, but it is done in a way that condemns the brotherhood that African Americans in particular share. In a half-hearted attempt, it does portray some racism. It's a neighbor calling a person of color the N word. That's about it. It undercuts the terrible history of racism, and worse, belittles it.

This book felt like a betrayal, even just strictly in the reader's sense. This plot twist was clumsy, nothing like the twisty books I've reviewed before, and as a result of the subject matter, Charlie 316 is offensive. It alienates an entire race of people, and American history has done enough of that as it is. I cannot recommend this book in any capacity. I thank NetGalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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First impressions can be dangerous.  From the very first chapter, this story grips you by the throat and doesn't let go.  Officer Garrett is such a likable guy, upstanding citizen, a model police officer, and family man.  When a traffic stop goes bad the reader joins the main character and shares the emotions throughout the ambush, chase and ultimate officer-involved shooting.  Relief is the overwhelming emotion with Tyler escapes unharmed.

As the cast of characters is introduced, almost every one elicits some sort of strong emotion.  I couldn't stop to cook dinner, leaving my family to fend for themselves, so engaged with this drama.  The story, like real life, is complicated by race, politics, perceptions, the news cycle, bad guys who appear to be good and good guys who aren't necessarily well liked.

This story will keep you guessing and most of the time, your guesses will be wrong.  I can't recommend this tense, moving drama enough.
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This is not what I was expecting. It is a twisted tale of not knowing who to trust. It involves dirty politics and corrupt cops. There are several sociopathic liars and manipulators who twist stories and events to benefit their own purpose. It is fast paced, with a lot of action and moving parts. You will not expect the ending.
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Charlie-316 is the second gritty, topical thriller that Mr Conway and Mr Zafiro have teamed up for and its complex, multilayered plot gave me a few hours of complete literary joy. The story begins with Tyler Garrett getting caught up in an officer-involved shooting — an emotionally-charged and divisive issue currently across the United States. From then it explores other worthy topics — race relations in America, murder, conspiracy theories, illegal drugs, wider police brutality, corruption and policing decisions made through a political lens, to name a few. Moving along at a good clip there is never a dull moment and we are treated to a well-rounded story. Not only does it feature nonstop action but it touches on many prevalent real-world issues too; the best of both worlds.

There is a rare air of authenticity about some of the happenings and I feel this is due to the fact that both authors have years of experience in the Spokane (Washington) Police Department. It's tension-filled, thoroughly entertaining and rather illuminating as I am sure some of this genuinely happens given I'm the sceptical type. Intriguing tidbit for anyone wondering (as I was) about where the title of the book came from; it was apparently Colin's call sign during one of his patrol assignments, and he liked the sound of it so much that he put it aside to be used in a story someday, and here we are! There is so much breadth and depth in this thriller it's astonishing. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Down & Out for an ARC.
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Charlie-316 by Colin Conway and Frank Zafiro

I contemplate as I sit here having just finished reading this book. Tyler Garrett’s story with real issues that we read and hear about on the news almost daily. The main character question is a police officer who uses his gun and ends up under investigation. My feelings as I read were definitely involved. I knew before midway that there was definitely corruption in the Spokane police force but just who is involved and how to prove it is not easy for those doing the investigating.  The authors of this book know what they are talking about and it comes through in the story they have told. It was easy to follow what was happening even when I really wished the story wasn’t going in the direction it was. I watched people die and politicians try to put a positive for themselves spin on the situation. I saw good men and women on the police force doing their jobs to the best of their abilities. I saw corrupt cops first hand dealing with their own interests without much concern for others. I felt a bit dirty when I finished reading the book because...I think I was supposed to feel that way. This book was entertaining, eye opening and intriguing. Once I began reading I really did have to read on to find out what would happen. The blurb gives the background for the story but the feelings I came away with were much greater than he blurb indicated I would experience. I can easily see this book as a movie and would definitely read more books by these authors.

Thank you to NetGalley and Down & Out Books for the ARC – This is my honest review. 

4-5 Stars
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Tyler Garrett is a model SWAT officer whose good looks, education and familial status add to that image. The fact that he is a black man in the predominately white Spokane Police Department only adds to the city administration’s pride in one of their own. He’s often pointed to as an example of the department’s best and brightest—a young man on the rise.

One summer evening, Garrett stops a reckless driver. It’s something he’s done a thousand times except this time, gunfire erupts from a nearby house. As Garrett dives for cover, the driver turns and begins shooting as well. Garrett survives the ambush by killing the driver and chasing off the additional shooter.

The legend of Tyler Garrett grows and the community rallies around him.

Until the initial investigation determines the driver was shot in the back and his gun has somehow disappeared. Suddenly, the police department, city hall, and even the national news media are wondering just what happened that night? In a nation where police brutality dominates the headlines, Garrett’s case has suddenly become a flashpoint.

Now, Officer Tyler Garrett must take matters into his own hands. Time is quickly running out for him to find the second shooter and to clear his name. 

This book has authenticity and ripped-from-the-headlines of the times. A VERY tense look behind the thin blue line.
Thank you, NetGalley for the advance copy.
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Black and blue describes this fast-paced novel the best both for its bruising non-stop action, but also for the story of race relations and the police force. Starting with a routine traffic stop, the story escalates into an ambush situation and progresses into police corruption, city politics, police brutality, illegal drugs, conspiracy theories, and murder. Sorting out the black and white of good and bad leads to many shades of gray.
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