Green Sun

Hanson, the hardbitten cop featured in Kent Anderson's first two crime novels (Sympathy for the Devil and Night Dogs), left the Portland, Ore., police department to teach college literature outside Boise. It didn't take. In Green Sun, the 38-year-old Vietnam Special Forces vet is now the oldest rookie in the Oakland PD and works the graveyard shift in the crime-ridden eastern districts. His lieutenant reminds him that Oakland has the "highest proportion of ex-cons of any city in California." His recommendation: throw them back in prison. Willing to knock heads when he has to, Hanson prefers a softer approach. Maybe it's his literature background that drives him to use genial conversation before pulling his gun or martial arts "short stick." Or maybe it's that he's unafraid: "If you're mean and don't care if you live or die, nobody messes with you."

An ex-cop and decorated Vietnam vet himself, Anderson paints his scenes with all the tattoos, dope and 9mm guns that characterize urban crime. Working through countless hangovers and hair-of-the-dog cures, Hanson builds an uneasy rapport with his community. He befriends the young bike-riding scamp Weegee, earns the respect of drug kingpin Felix and woos the sexy black crime victim Libya. However, he's still "a soldier in Oakland's army of occupation." He may be a soft-touch outcast in the OPD, but he has no illusions. Calming--rather than busting--a couple of knife-fighting drunks, he hopes the best for them but reminds himself: "They were drunk and psychotic black men in Oakland. They'd never be okay." Anderson's Green Sun is a cop novel as hard and real as it gets. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

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