The Right Wrong Thing
A Dot Meyerhoff Mystery #2
Oceanview Publishing, October 2015
From the publisher—
Hesitate or Respond—Either Choice Can Lead to Disaster
Officer Randy Spelling had always wanted to be a police officer, to follow in the footsteps of her brothers and her father. Not long after joining the force, she mistakenly shoots and kills Lakeisha Gibbs, a pregnant teenager. The community is outraged; Lakeisha’s family is vocal and vicious in their attacks against Spelling. Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and filled with remorse, Randy is desperate to apologize to the girl’s family. Everyone, including the police chief, warns her against this, but the young police officer will not be dissuaded. Her attempt is catastrophic. Dr. Dot Meyerhoff, police psychologist, plunges herself into the investigation despite orders from the police chief to back off. Not only does the psychologist’s refusal to obey orders jeopardize her career, but her life as well, as she enlists unlikely allies and unconventional undercover work to expose the tangled net of Officer Spelling’s disastrous course.
There have been tragic shootings by police in recent years that have garnered much attention, usually appropriately but sometimes, right or wrong, tempers rage and accusations are made. The events that turn out to be malicious in some way are terrible, no doubt, and the suffering of the victims and their survivors is very real but the news media rarely pays attention to the emotional and mental fallout the police officer faces when the shooting truly was validated by the circumstances. Equally if not more difficult are the repercussions when the shooting was accidental.
And so we come to know Randy, a young and mostly untried police officer who has a moment of panic that causes mistrust among her fellow officers, especially her partner. The police psychologist, Dot Meyerhoff, shepherds Randy through this difficult time but disaster strikes when Randy, back on duty, makes a horrible mistake and kills a pregnant girl. The awful repercussions are certainly not unexpected but Randy makes things far worse when she attempts to apologize, against all advice, and Dot steps back in to try to help this girl as well as her fellow officers, finding herself in a situation that’s as potentially deadly to her as it is to the officer. When murder happens, Dot is compelled to find answers without official police approval.
Dr. Meyerhoff is a brilliantly-drawn character which is no surprise considering the author’s own background as a police psychologist. Not only does Dot have the knowledge to do her job but she does it with kindness and candor, two attributes that don’t always mix well. It’s easy to see why police officers often resent being required to see a psychologist (if the books I read and the TV shows I watch are accurate on this point) but, if I had to see one, I’d want Dr. Meyerhoff. This woman brings a strong sense of stability and caring to fragile situations.
Randy is another character I came to have strong feelings for, if not quite so positive. This girl is a painful mess and not helped any by the male-dominated world she has chosen to be part of or by her acute need to prove herself to her colleagues and to her own family. Randy is not well-suited to cope with this kind of pressure and that makes her career choice a real problem.
I won’t say much about the plot because it would be difficult to avoid spoilers but I will say this—Ms. Kirschman knows how to write a story full of suspense, the kind that makes me start to feel the hairs rising on the back of my neck. I’m really glad I’ve been introduced to her work and I’ll be picking up her first Dot Meyerhoff book, Burying Ben, as soon as I can.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2015.
Praise for Ellen Kirschman & the
Dot Meyerhoff Mystery Series:
“Ellen Kirschmann’s Dot Meyerhoff is the most intriguing character in contemporary fiction. Her narrations remind me of a cabbie I had in Istanbul. He drove too fast, took me down dead ends and through dangerous neighborhoods. He yelled at pedestrians and cursed at dogs. And just when I finally decided he was hopelessly lost, he delivered me safe and sound to just the place I wanted to be and left me on the sidewalk, shaking and smiling.”
—J. Michael Orenduff, award-winning author of the “Pot Thief” murder mystery series
“Ellen Kirschman is a no-nonsense writer. She manages to set the scene smartly, populate it with sharply drawn personalities, and pour the story over us without wasting a word. Her confident wit, energetic prose, and special insight into the workings of the human mind make The Right Wrong Thing an outstanding read. In this timely novel of strained community relationships, where police department psychologist Dr. Dot Meyerhoff is held hostage in a way, there’s no relief from the suspense and the exciting journey into the motivations of people on both sides of the law. But even as Dot is pushed to the limit, she’s determined to do the next right thing, no matter the cost.
—Camille Minichino, physicist and award-winning author of the Periodic Table mystery series
About the Author
Ellen Kirschman, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in independent practice. She is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Society for the Study of Police and Criminal Psychology, the American Psychological Association, and the International Association of Women in Law Enforcement. She is the recipient of the California Psychological Association’s 2014 award for distinguished contribution to psychology as well as the American Psychological Association’s 2010 award for outstanding contribution to the practice of police and public safety psychology. Ellen is the author of the award-winning I Love a Cop: What Police Families Need to Know, I Love a Fire Fighter: What the Family Needs to Know, and lead author of Counseling Cops: What Clinicians Need to Know (2013). Her debut novel, Burying Ben: A Dot Meyerhoff Mystery (2013) is about police suicide told from the perspective of the psychologist. Ellen and her husband live in Redwood City, California.
Please, note, in no way does Ms Kirschman condone unjustified brutality at the hands of police. She offers insight into the other side of a possible situation. The possible outcome is very moving, and thought provoking.
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