After a summer filled with racial tension over police shootings, it was only a matter of time before a novel surfaced with a similar theme. Suzanne Chazin presents that problem for her series character, Hispanic cop Jimmy Vega, in the first few pages of her new novel, No Witness but the Moon.
Vega is first on the scene of an apparent home invasion and chases down one suspect. But when the suspect fails to release an object in his hand and begins to turn toward Vega despite orders to freeze, Vega has only seconds to kill or be killed. The suspect is fatally wounded, which is when Vega’s troubles really begin. As other police arrive, it’s quickly apparent that Vega has shot an unarmed man. The only item in the man’s possession was a photograph clutched in his right hand.
Chazin expertly crafts the immediate fallout of the shooting in several emotion-filled, tense pages. Vega reels from what he’s done, while at the same time playing the scene and his options over and over in his mind. His fellow police swiftly take control of the scene and begin piecing together events. Vega is suspended as an internal investigation begins and as tensions within the Hispanic community mount, prompting protest marches and chants of “hands up don’t shoot.”
While that may be enough fodder for most novelists to build upon, Chazin ups the ante by tying the victim of the shooting to the mysterious unsolved death of Vega’s mother years ago. Vega, naturally, uses his unwanted downtime to begin his own investigation.
The novel moves at a torrid pace, swiftly drawing in the reader with its ripped-from-the-headlines shooting, then keeps readers hooked as Vega deals with the emotional and psychological aftermath on his life, career and family.