Steve Cartright has done it again.
I annoyed him for a statement on his latest book. I was thinking how to get away with a long-winded review. I’ll get the ex-copper and detective to give me a statement, that’s how.
Diary In Blue: from reporter to cop is an exceptional book, in so many ways. It gives a nod to Ronnie Shaw, author of Transmutation: Tales of a Twisted Cop. In many ways, each book complements the other. Atlanta is and was a dangerous place. He also not only nodded to Ronnie but to himself, celebrating life on the wrong side of the tracks.
From bad does come good. Just wait and see.
Both these coppers crossed sides many times. I’m thinking stripper bars, access to snitches, busting whores, etc and etc. There is no wrong side of the track. Lack of money, surplus of it, that’s the deal. Some go to extreme lengths to get it, legal or illegal.
See, I’m being longwinded again.
The book is big on the paranormal.
Steve isn’t happy just reporting the facts, he goes the long distance and reports on how he’s feeling on a celular level.
Time slowed down like molasses slowly dripping off a spoon.
By the third chapter, he had already used his nine lives.
‘I’ve only reported a few close calls,’ he says, ‘there were many more I had to leave out.’
The chapter on the house that bleeds is a long chapter. Within ten minutes of being there, the detective says he knew what was going down.
‘As I become a detective the chapters are longer because I was investigating open crime.’
The book starts off with the young Rasputin cub reporter reporting from the other side of the yellow tape.
He’s accepted by the coppers. They see potential in him and bring the young reporter over to the other side of the yellow tape.
The rest is history, as they say. But that didn’t stop the young writer man from writing and creating. He just needed a long interlude of confronting crime head which he’d use later use as writing fodder.
‘Wait till you get to the chapter of the woman murdered while holding her baby in her lap!’
It was sad and true, verging on depressing.
Gallows humor is a big part of this book, how else do you deal with tragedy on a daily basis?
‘We jogged together after watch. On duty I would get in his marked car & go eat supper, so we were in his car when this assault call came up in an upper-middle-class neighborhood.’
The banter between those two is the usual banter of friends for three decades.
‘You’ve listened to me & Ronnie banter back and forth on Cleo’s show. That’s how we interacted on the Job.’
‘There’s a chapter about a murder, entitled TESTIMONY FROM A GHOST,’ adds Steve.
Back to more paranormal themes. This ain’t a normal cop book, is it?
If you were a big fan of Columbo, then this book should appeal to the quirkier side of the human condition.Inspirations come from many places, and I know who Cartwright would have modeled himself on.
Columbo: So far, sir, we don’t have a thing.
Nelson Hayward: Well, that’s heartening.
Columbo: Officially, that is.
Nelson Hayward: And unofficially?
Columbo: Unofficially, we don’t have anything either.
‘The last chapter was in Manuel’s Tavern swilling beer,’ says Steve.
It seems a fitting end, a Bobbie from the UK being inducted on how things are done in law enforcement in the USA
The dialogue is fresh, laid down on the pages the day it was spoken most likely at Manual’s Tavern, the preferred drinking establishment for those on the Atlanta Beat.
Cartwright always wanted to be a writer, and this book is a testament to the fact that is a writer. And a damned good one at that.
In Steve’s own words on his latest book, and he’s written a few of them, he comes clean on why he writes and what led him to be a champion of street dogs:
I’m a born writer and I go through life thinking “How would I write about this?” I wrote the majority of this book decades ago, before I retired from being a cop, and I never knew how to end it. Just lately my Muse indicated I should end my cop book by segueing into what I’m doing now — dog Rescue. When I was a young reporter I did a story about a clairvoyant who read my aura and said sometime in the future I would be known for a compilation of my notes that would become popular. Maybe this book is it?
I’m sure of it.
‘With the arrival of dawn, the nocturnal demons receded to their netherworld.’
That would make a great ending, I thought.
Tomb raiding did you ask?
Why would someone want to break into a Mausoleum?
‘To steal five skulls,’ says Steve.
Atlanta might not be New York, but boy it has the stories.
I felt after reading Diary In Blue: from reporter to cop that I been inducted in the local hall of fame. It’s that folksy folks.
‘You mean a bar stool at Manuals.’
That’s right and thanks for making me an honorary member.
‘Vanya Vetto is always invited in my establishment’s,’ says Steve.
I get right down to brass-tacks.
‘When are we hitting the stripper joint?’
‘That’s the Vetto I know,’ smirks Steve, as he guides me into Hooters,’ always burning the candle at both ends.’
Inside the Tavern, I told Steve about my own cemetery stories.
‘What is said in Manual’s stays in Manual’s,’ he said, chugging down his Jim Beam.
Weren’t’ we at Hooters I said?
‘We frequented those places too,’ he says, nursing a Jack Danials this time, ‘nothing like a good stripper to act as a bitch and a snitch to boot.’ [Steve never said that, I was being creative, again.]