2019 Silver Falchion Winner
Beyond the Truth
By Bruce Robert Coffin
Publication Date: October 2018
Beyond the Truth
Review by Jim Biggs
Bruce Robert Coffin’s third installment in the Detective Byron Mysteries series, Beyond the Truth is an excellent read. It is a realistic and well researched example of a police procedural. I’ve not worn a badge myself, but I know plenty that have and believe that this series is about as authentic as it gets.
Detective John Byron of the Portland, Maine police department is called out to investigate a “police-involved shooting”. Officer Sean Haggerty, a School Resource Officer for Portland High School was picking up an overtime shift when the call came in about an armed robbery at a local laundromat that was close to his location. He responded, observed two figures running away from the area and pursed them. One of the individuals got away, the other shot at Haggerty who returned fire. Haggerty was unharmed, but the assailant was dead. There was no gun found at the scene, nor bullet casing. It seemed that Haggerty had shot an unarmed man. A man that turned out to be the local high schools top basket star and only 17 years old. But there is much more to the story than what the initial facts reveal.
It’s not easy tackling such a tough subject as this, but Coffin did – and did it well. His characters are not perfect people – not the officers, the investigators, the perpetrators, or their parents and Coffin portrays them as they are – warts and all. He doesn’t let any of his characters off easy and I admire him for that. His writing style is as detailed and honest as he portrays Detective Byron to be. The subplots are interesting and provide a little relief from the gravity of the main story while not slowing down the pace of the novel. All in all, this is a fine example of what a police procedural should be and I enjoyed it enough to go back and get the first and second novels.
I commend Coffin’s willingness to tackle such a timely and divisive topic as this and to write it in such a way that is fair to both sides of the political issue.