Stress - Loren D Estleman Officer Charles Battle has a problem. Picked to join the internal affairs investigative team because he's black, he is actually taking the investigation of an officer shooting seriously. Sgt, Kubicek a decorated cop and a member of S.T.R.E.S.S., was working as a security guard for a large party at one of Grosse Point's society mansions, in violation of departmental policy. During an attempted robbery, he courageously shoots two of the robbers, both armed, and then thinking he sees another one fleeing, he shoots Junios Harrison, a young black man who had been invited to the party, in the back. Realizing his mistake he lays down a perp gun. The other detectives on the squad have rallied behind Kubicek. realizing it was a mistake, but pressure from the black community is pushing them all into cover-up mode.

The prevailing mood of the black community is, as one tells Battle, "I believe you when you say you're here to find out. You're a tame dog. You shuffle here and shuffle there and sniff around and bring back what you dug up like a good yard nigger before anybody else can dig it up, and your lily-white boss rubs your head and says, 'That's fine, boy, now you go put on a clean pair of overalls and drive the commissioner's wife down to Hudson's.' And what you brought goes into a locked file."

Here's Battle ,using on the Mod Squad (most of you won't have a clue about that show): "Linc, the black and beautiful undercover cop with a weakness for wraparound sunglasses, hula-hoop afros, and dashikis short enough to run in without having to hold up the hems like Scarlett O'Hara. . . A few minutes and several commercials later, having made his collar, he would receive a pat on her upholstered head from his partners, the Hollywood hippie and the blonde tart in love beads, and the three of them would go to a rib joint and celebrate. It was enough to make Battle nostalgic for Amos 'n' Andy."

I remember watching the Mod Squad only a couple of times when it was on TV so I poked around a bit and discovered it was considered by some to be high social commentary, a celebration of anti-authoritarian youth. (Admittedly, most also seemed to have a crush on Peggy Lipton.) Another Aaron Spelling's wishful thinking.

The book is somewhat dated with references to the Detroit riots of the sixties, but for anyone who lived through the period, the racial tensions within all levels of society are accurately portrayed and a reminder of a time, not so long ago, when things were very different. An author's note at the end places some of the events in historical context. Be sure to read it last.

3.5 stars really, but not quite 4.