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Sunday, June 19, 2011

I Am Not a Cop!: A Novel by Richard Belzer and Michael A. Black

Okay, but not great detective fiction

Richard Belzer
Law and Order: SVU's Richard Belzer tries his hand at fiction (with some help from mystery writer Michael A. Black) with I Am Not A Cop!: A Novel ,a bit of noir lit that reminds me of Robert B. Parker without all of the psychobabble but with more conspiracy theories and lots more political commentary. Belzer inserts himself as the main character in this interesting but tedious work.

Belzer's acid wit comes to the fore throughout his personal investigation into the disappearance of a Ukranian-born friend. Belzer's multiple police contacts due to the TV show (ride-alongs, police advisors to make the language and procedures more realistic) and a simple assumption that he can figure out how to investigate crime in real life since he's done it so long on TV.

At times it's interesting, at times it gets repetitive, especially with multiple passages similar to this one: "...when I get determined, it takes an act of Congress to dissuade me. Well, those are usually pretty watered down by the time they get out of committee and have all the pork attached to them. Maybe I should change that to an executive order. Unless it came from someone with the last name Bush." (p. 198) Cute enough, but put one on every fifth page and you begin to wonder if the book was being padded for some reason.

Throw in some repetitive phrasings such as "It hit me like a punch in the liver" (p. 197) and "Buteyko's comment...came back to me like an elbow to the kidneys" (p. 211) and "I felt like I'd bumped up against a live outlet" (p. 178) and I began to tire of the whole thing.

Interestingly, there are no reviews of the actual book on the book. Instead, on the back of the book there are reviews of Belzer's stand-up routine from Chris Rock, Robin Williams, Chevy Chase, Robert De Niro, Richard Pryor and John Belushi. In my mind, that says something about the quality of the book as a whole. The reviews play to Belzer's strength - his history as a comic but ignore the book completely. It may be harsh, but to be honest, the premise of the book (TV actor who plays a cop really investigates a crime) and the fact that it was written by a celebrity carried the book. If this were written by a no-name author about a fictional actor investigating crimes on his own time I don't know if I would have finished it.

I rate this book 2 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: I Am Not a Cop!.

Reviewed on January 15, 2009.

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