Hands Across the Sea

Fiction - Thriller - General
612 Pages
Reviewed on 07/09/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

Hands Across the Sea by Brian Cook is a law enforcement novel that explores the complexities and biases within a sheriff's office and the journey of Sheriff Brendan Callaghan and rising leader Seth Alexander. Promotions, particularly of Black officers, are scrutinized, revealing systemic biases and sparking a potential lawsuit. Sheriff Callaghan's succession causes upheaval, leading to retirements and daily operational challenges. The story emphasizes professionalism, dedication, and diversity in leadership despite adversities. The implementation of COMSTAT, a data-driven philosophy, introduces unease, counterbalanced by humorous games and the power dynamics navigated by officers like Captain Milagra Jimenez. Personal relationships and societal issues are looked at to underscore the importance of bridging generational gaps, maintaining honesty, and fostering communication and support among divisions. Interpersonal and institutional issues are discussed against the backdrop of a city and its evolving demographics, and the narratives of various characters provide insights into personal histories, dreams, nightmares, and struggles.

Hands Across the Sea would probably be best described as law enforcement literary fiction, as there isn't actually any one singular underlying plot. There are multiple character arcs but really what author Brian Cook has written is a compilation of police conversations and an interpretation of what the force he has created in this book is, and who the people within it are. The writing occasionally wanders into exposition and some of what comes up can feel contrived, particularly when relating to race as a public perception. Still, Cook does well in depicting characters trying to navigate their personal and professional lives without becoming overwhelmed by it and focuses on aspects of human nature and department culture. Overall, I can see this book being enjoyed by those with a connection to law enforcement and police work in particular, as well as those who are appreciative of literature that, while not having a conventional plot, still carries slice-of-life scenes that accumulate into a full-length novel.