“Out Of The Blues” by Trudy Nan Boyce uses her vast experience in the Atlanta Police Department to write a procedural novel. The emphasis is on the culture of Atlanta and how it influenced that society. Part of what drives the story is the atmosphere created by the rhythm and blue music.
“I hope people will think there is something behind the uniform, an actual human being,” Boyce said. “We have the same issues as anyone else does. I hope after reading this book, people would understand, as with anyone, we have good days and bad ones. Not all cops are all good and all perfect.”
The book begins with Sarah “Salt” Alt transferring from being a street cop to becoming a homicide detective. Her first case is the decade-old drug overdose of blues musician Mike Anderson, reopened thanks to a tip from a convicted felon imprisoned for attacking Salt. Her investigation quickly ruffles feathers in the department as she alienates a powerful local pastor, who employs off-duty cops as security guards. Hopefully, in the upcoming books of the series Boyce will draw out her character, allowing readers to become more connected. Yet, she skillfully draws out the city of Atlanta having Salt’s investigation taking her into the depths of Atlanta’s homeless and the politically powerful Churches.
The book does explore how women fared in a sexist police hierarchy. Although Salt is not one to make waves she has a hidden strength, a good intuitive sense, and is very loyal. This can be grasped with the powerful scene when Salt is told, “This was the chick’s desk. Now it’s yours… You’ll get the same one as the only other woman who ever worked Homicide nights in this city.”
Although Atlanta is a majority/minority city Boyce says, “women are the least represented as a group in the police department. The police culture is both camaraderie and conflict within a unit. Sarah experienced a lot of what I experienced. We both share a dedication to the job, wanted to bring resolution to people, and empathized with those victim’s families.”
“Out Of The Blues,” a debut novel by Boyce shows how the police have a complete dedication to finding justice. Through her character, Salt, readers are able to understand how female cops navigated anti-women prejudice within the unit and anti-police sentiment in the city.