The Case of the Claw – SCPD #1
Written by: Keith R.A. DeCandido
Published by: Crossroad Press
SCPD: The Case of the Claw
by Keith R.A. DeCandido
I love a good police procedural. I really enjoy immersing myself in the
day-to-day workings of solving a complicated crime. Throw in a few “supers”-costumed people with out-of-the-ordinary powers, some criminals and some heroes, and you’ve got Keith R.A. DeCandido’s Super City.
In “The Case of the Claw”, the major action is the return of a vicious serial killer known only as the Claw. With few clues to his identity and more bodies appearing, sheer desperation has the cops considering cooperation with super team the Superior Six in an attempt to advance their investigation. Political pressure to find the killer has the cops authorized to work overtime on the case, despite their tight budget, chasing down every possible lead. And in and amongst seeking clues to the Claw’s whereabouts, various cops are still handling domestic disturbances, muggings, prison breaks, alien invasions, and, of course, fights between supers-ordinary and extraordinary crime hasn’t stopped just because there’s a serial killer in town.
The beleaguered detectives of Super City are really well-developed characters, and that drew me into the book right away. You empathize with these cops as they go about their business, trying to solve crimes and arrest perps as they dodge interfering supers. Having a so-called hero dash in to save the day looks great on TV-but unless they’re willing to testify in court, the criminals they help apprehend can go free on technicalities. Leaving the overworked and underpaid police to clean up the mess. Again.
The story is multi-threaded, something that DeCandido handles deftly, juggling detectives from the Homicide Unit, uniformed officers, the police captain, and his lieutenant, as well as forays into political figures, reporters, etc. Descriptions of violence and murders are balanced with skilled touches of humor that never let the book get too dark, and the fast pace keeps you reading just “one more chapter.”
Occasionally the current action is summarized by always excessively cheery and upbeat opening monologue of News 6 at 6, including top news stories, excerpts from interviews, weather, sports, and traffic updates-providing very entertaining comic relief and inserting clever bits of Super City history. Peruse carefully, advertent reader.
The amount of thought that DeCandido has put into his world-building shines through in the little details of Super City. The care he has taken with everything from naming the local sports teams (gleaned from the News 6 at 6 discourses) to the pervasive marketing of the Superior Six that shows up everywhere in Super City (they have to pay for their blimp somehow!). From Superior-brand soda in six flavors to Superior Six frozen treat called Six-cicles, there are careful touches that make Super City very, very real. Someplace you’d almost like to visit, except for the danger of running afoul of someone in a costume . . . .
Reviewed by Elektra Hammond