Excerpt from Proving Ground by Peter Blauner, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Proving Ground

A Lourdes Robles Novel, Book 1

by Peter Blauner

Proving Ground by Peter Blauner X
Proving Ground by Peter Blauner
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  • First Published:
    May 2017, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2018, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Gary Presley
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1

A helicopter with a searchlight is hovering low over Prospect Park, its juddering hum reminding Lourdes of a man deciding how to respond to an insult.

As she approaches the Fifth Street entrance, she sees ambulance guys smoking cigarettes, in no big hurry to do anything. Yellow tape cordons off the bike lanes, a big crowd behind it already, bathed in flashes of blue, white, and red from the squad car lights. An exclusive nightspot for people you wouldn't want to party with: white-shirted supervisors, regular uniform cops, and detectives in off-the-rack suits.

On first glance, it looks like the unusual event they've shown up for is a vacant parking space in No-Park Slope. But then she sees the fleecy white and red clumps, which turn out to be feathers, trailing back toward the sidewalk. They lead past inside-out latex gloves, snipped rubber tubing, and a bent syringe to a body facedown near an elm tree, stuffing coming out through the ruptured stitching of a Canada Goose parka.

Lourdes flips tin at the cop standing guard and ducks under the tape, not liking the way her trousers crackle with the bend. A month without carbs and she still can't get under 165. But fuck it, she's bootylicious and proud. Always been a big girl, with lots of bounce to the ounce. All creamy café con leche abundance busting from a halter top when she was waitressing undercover at the Golden Lady Gentlemen's Lounge, substantial and serious when she's wearing her Lane Bryant business suit in the squadroom. Either way, whoever couldn't appreciate that rearview had no class and could just move it along, nothing to see here, fellas.

"Detective Robles, welcome back." Captain Bowman, the CO from her patrol days, is just inside the tape, shivering in the spring chill. "I'll cue the balloons."

She smiles and bunches her cheeks up like brioche tops. Three months back in the detective squad and still catching grief from the trolls downstairs. What else could she expect? Even before she got in trouble, she'd been dangerously low on allies at the seven-eight. Pretty much everyone she used to work with had been pissed about her getting to jump the line before she'd even completed her eighteen-month rotation in Narcotics.

But none of them happened to be getting highlights at the Sophisticated Lady Hair Salon on Flatbush Avenue when a five-time loser named Tyrell Humphries tried to hold the place up with a .22, which he dry-clicked twice upside Lourdes's head after she ID'd herself as a cop. Somehow even with a smock on, she'd managed to wrestle the gat away before shooting him in the ball sack. Which, in turn, led to her getting promoted at a special ceremony attended by the mayor and the PC.

Her photo appeared in the Daily News, effectively ending her career as an undercover. And leaving her unprotected six months later when her fuckwit partner, Erik Heinz, got caught on a cell-phone camera verbally abusing an Arab cab driver for cutting them off on Ocean Parkway, with Lourdes standing behind him, silent and embarrassed. The clip became an instant YouTube sensation, seventy-five thousand clicks in the first three hours, earning Heinz a new assignment moving Staten Island barricades and Lourdes six weeks in a VIPER room, watching security monitors in a housing project basement. When she got out, she was no longer known as the "Heroine of the Hair Salon," but as "that fat girl who got in trouble."

"What do we got, Captain?"

"Deep breath, LRo. Taxpayer down."

"White guy?"

"Amazing. You're getting called in six hours after your tour ends and you figure that out on your own. No wonder they let you hang on to that little gold shield."

Four detectives from her squad are already at the scene, joining a couple of medical-legal investigators from the ME's office in Tyvek suits and booties. Two CSU techs take photos and make notes. The ghouls are parking the morgue van over by the parks administration building. She notices that every time she catches someone's eye, it darts away.

Copyright © 2017 by Slow Motion Riot Inc.

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