'Afterimage'

afterimageHave you noticed the way a new dynamic has entered the crime-scene story, sometimes even overtly voiced in the world-weary cop banter that takes place behind the yellow tape? It goes something like this: “Everyone thinks it’s like on TV”—meaning, that DNA samples are tested overnight, that records are easy to search, that cases get wrapped up by the end of the hour. (Oddly enough, they even say this on TV shows now.)

Kathleen George borrows a page from this playbook in her new detective thriller, Afterimage, as she tries to show the true grit of jobs on the force: In the Pittsburgh Homicide Squad depicted here, the crime lab is chronically backed-up and underfunded; the squad is shorthanded, and the detectives are frustrated and sometimes a little overwhelmed.

At the same time, of course, the story—which revolves around rookie detective Colleen Greer’s first real case, involving the murders of two victims Greer, tidily enough, happens to know from her earlier career as a counselor—progresses as smoothly as any television show.

(Note: This is hardly anything to blame George for; ultimately, when real cops complain about how everyone expects television-worthy endings, what they really mean is that their work is often dirty and tedious and short on rewards. And I think we can all agree that’s not what we want to unwind in front of at the end of a long, tedious day at work. Nor, for that matter, do we seek that in books intended primarily for purposes of escapism.)

So, yes, things are pretty clean, at least as brutal murders go—the same detectives are on both cases, quickly figuring out that they’re connected (rookie Greer is instrumental here, as you’d expect), Commander Richard Christie (whom fans will remember from George’s previous crime novels, Taken and Fallen) asks for help in the lab, and maybe it’s not really spoiling anything to tell you that everything is wrapped up in a little over a week. And have I mentioned all the cops’ extraordinary dedication? Even a secretary with a horrible cold comes in late-night to help with the case, and the others carry on with mere hours of sleep, neglecting their families and relationships in their eagerness to get the job done right.
Still, the story is pretty darn solid—certainly good enough to keep you turning the pages for plot alone. The shifting perspective, which flits among the detectives and their families and Greer’s boyfriend as well as one of the victims and the prime suspect, also keeps things moving along briskly.

But there are also a few things that set Afterimage apart from your standard detective thriller. First is George’s deep interest in the psychological makeup of her characters; Greer, for example, struggles with balancing her career with an outside life and perhaps begins to confuse her eagerness to please on the job with a little crush on her commander.

Related to this is George’s attempt to balance her own passions in her writing; she is not only an author of police thrillers but also a professor of theater at the University of Pittsburgh, and mentions of theatrical tricks—costuming, makeup, posture—are sprinkled here and there throughout Afterimage. (After all, there’s a fine line between acting and lying, right?) Finally, you can’t miss George’s passion for food and knowledge of Pittsburgh’s restaurants. These detectives may be overworked and under-rested, but they manage to find the time to eat: breakfast at Lindo’s, dinner at Tessaro’s and Alexander’s, and even sandwiches grabbed along the way are described and their composition and significance reflected upon—and that’s not how the cops usually do it on television.


Afterimage by Kathleen George; St. Martin’s Minotaur; $24.95

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

The month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2016

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2016

The list of the regions's 687 leading physicians across 80 specialities.
Making The Rounds: What It Means to be a Doctor in Pittsburgh

Making The Rounds: What It Means to be a Doctor in Pittsburgh

In a city known for world-class care, a life dedicated to health is rewarding, challenging, and innovative at every level — from med school to the board room.
Why Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is Cornered

Why Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is Cornered

Can McLay reshape the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police in his polite, communication-heavy, community-friendly, racially sensitive, 21st-century image?
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Is PUC Going Overboard With Its Punishment of Uber

Is PUC Going Overboard With Its Punishment of Uber

Governor Tom Wolf, Mayor Bill Peduto, and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald say the PUC went too far when it fined the ride-sharing company $11.3 million.
The Story Behind This Epic Picture of Lightning Over Pittsburgh

The Story Behind This Epic Picture of Lightning Over Pittsburgh

Most people crawl deeper under the covers during a nighttime thunderstorm, photographer Dave DiCello does just the opposite.
Not Surprising: 'Burgh Among the Best for New College Grads

Not Surprising: 'Burgh Among the Best for New College Grads

According to a financial advising site, Pittsburgh is both affordable and a good place to find a job for those fresh out of college.
Harold Hayes' Biggest Retirement Fear, It's Not What You Think

Harold Hayes' Biggest Retirement Fear, It's Not What You Think

Hayes leaves KDKA TV after nearly 37 years with his legacy as one of the city's most respected, fair and accurate reporters – and his priceless sense of humor – firmly intact.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our new, daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

The month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2016

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2016

The list of the regions's 687 leading physicians across 80 specialities.
Making The Rounds: What It Means to be a Doctor in Pittsburgh

Making The Rounds: What It Means to be a Doctor in Pittsburgh

In a city known for world-class care, a life dedicated to health is rewarding, challenging, and innovative at every level — from med school to the board room.
Why Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is Cornered

Why Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is Cornered

Can McLay reshape the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police in his polite, communication-heavy, community-friendly, racially sensitive, 21st-century image?
The Eaglets Have Landed

The Eaglets Have Landed

The bald eagles nesting in Hays once again have given birth to a new generation. We take you into the nest to see how quickly the two chicks are growing.
Review: Justin Severino Knocks It Out of the Park With Morcilla

Review: Justin Severino Knocks It Out of the Park With Morcilla

Severino's follow-up to Cure is already winning national accolades.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Is PUC Going Overboard With Its Punishment of Uber

Is PUC Going Overboard With Its Punishment of Uber

Governor Tom Wolf, Mayor Bill Peduto, and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald say the PUC went too far when it fined the ride-sharing company $11.3 million.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Umami Izakaya (Finally) Open in Lawrenceville

Umami Izakaya (Finally) Open in Lawrenceville

The much-anticipated Japanese pub from Tamari's Roger Li and Round Corner Cantina's Derek Burnell will serve food and drink deep into the night.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The quiet rise of Pittsburgh's tea scene gives us a few favorite gems.

Comments


Digital Jukeboxes are Evil, Bar-Ruining Monsters

Digital Jukeboxes are Evil, Bar-Ruining Monsters

The case against TouchTunes, the streaming music loudspeaker that can't stop screwing up the vibe at local bars.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
A By-The-Numbers Draft Has Its Advantages For Steelers This Time

A By-The-Numbers Draft Has Its Advantages For Steelers This Time

For the Steelers, this is a draft that’s long on need but short on intrigue.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Off to the Races

Off to the Races

Want to shade yourself in style at Derby Day and the PNC Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Spring Hat Luncheon? Look no further.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Your Mother Deserves Better than This Awful Mother's Day Movie

Your Mother Deserves Better than This Awful Mother's Day Movie

Reviews of "Mother's Day," "Keanu," "Green Room" and local film news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Finding Sunshine on a Rainy Wedding Day in Pittsburgh

Finding Sunshine on a Rainy Wedding Day in Pittsburgh

You don’t always need blue skies and sunshine to have a beautiful and memorable wedding. One couple shares their advice on making the most of a rainy wedding day and what to do when the forecast is less than ideal.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
A Far From Ordinary House Tour in Wilkinsburg This Weekend

A Far From Ordinary House Tour in Wilkinsburg This Weekend

The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation hosts a one-of-a-kind house tour on May 7.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
STEM Event for Girls Planned at La Roche College

STEM Event for Girls Planned at La Roche College

The Tech Savvy program from the American Association of University Women aims to interest middle school girls in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Comments