We don’t often recommend novels about cops, but here’s an exception: Black & White, by Det. Sgt. Wes Albers, a 23-year veteran of San Diego PD.
Skillfully crafted, it’s exactly what reader reviews on Amazon say it is: “Something different, something authentic and gritty”…“enlightening about just who those guys in those uniforms and black and white cars actually are as people”…“a mystery, a police procedural, and drama all in one”…perhaps, in a retired detective’s words, “the most realistic cop book ever written.”
Albers, now 46, made a name for himself on San Diego PD right off the starting blocks, recalls Dr. Bill Lewinski, who taught him as a law enforcement student in the 1980s at Minnesota State University-Mankato. As a rookie on the street, Albers took special interest in a series of rape cases, beyond what his patrol assignment warranted. Drawing on what he’d learned from Lewinski in a sex crimes course, he tried to offer seasoned investigators a profile of the likely culprit and the identity of a possible subject. “They laughed at him at first,” Lewinski says, “but ultimately he was proved right.”
In Black & White, the protagonist, a long-time patrol dog and FTO, digs into a gruesome and puzzling murder case between 911 calls and eventually determines whodunit. Along the way, he traverses the street experiences, the nagging take-home emotions, the communal pranks, and the maddening departmental politics that any officer with a few years under his gunbelt will recognize in spades.
“The murder involves elements of a homicide in real life that I went to,” Albers says. “People never envision street cops being powerful in solving major crimes, but I couldn’t not draw from my own experiences. That’s where I get the strongest edge.
“I wanted to tell a cop story and show how the job influences and impacts us professionally and personally without distorting it or having to resort to unreality to create false drama.”
He started the book about nine years ago, often sitting at his laptop the rest of the night and into the day after getting off work at midnight. Sometimes he got no more than a paragraph done the way he wanted it. But during a period when he was on medical leave after being injured in fights with violent border crossers, he hit a groove when polished chapters seemed to pile up on the hour.
Now he’s working on a second novel, which will continue with some of the same characters, develop themes planted in Black & White, and convey the same sense of authenticity. He’s determined to use his writing ability “to pass on what I’ve seen and what I’ve learned, particularly to cops who need to know that the things they see and the way it impacts them is something that is shared by other cops.”
Lewinski confirms the importance of that mission. “In our pervasive popular culture of movies, tv shows, and fiction that predominately present a distorted picture of law enforcement, Wes offers officers a validation that the world as they personally experience it on the streets is, in fact, what’s real,” Lewinski says. “There’s a strong psychological benefit from having that affirmation.”
And a fine story to enjoy in the process!
[Black & White is available in paperback on Amazon.com. Click here to go to the page. Albers can be reached at: email@example.com ]