This review contains mild spoilers.
Book Name: Special Operations
Author: W.E.B. Griffin (originally written as John Kevin Dugan)
Series: Book #2 in the ongoing “Badge of Honor” series
Format(s): Hardcover(reprint)/Mass market paperback/audiobook/eBook
Release Date: October 1, 1989
You can read my review of the first book in the series, Men In Blue, right here.
Special Operations picks up almost immediately after the events of in the first book, Men In Blue, take place. W.E.B. Griffin tends to do that in many of his series, having the action continue through the books of a series as if they’re one long book. As he also does in many of his series, Griffin develops an “elite” organization within an organization and that’s where Special Operations is born. The oddity is there was already an elite organization in the Philadelphia police force called the Highway Patrol. It’s a unique anti-crime task force that has jurisdiction throughout the city instead of just within the district it lays. Griffin solves the issue by having Highway work under the umbrella of “Special Operations”.
The book has two main plot lines, the first is special operations being tagged to stop a rapist that has struck several times, with each case getting more violent than the previous ones. The second plot line, driven by the first, is about Peter Wohl and his staffing of the new special operations department. The downside of the first plot line is in Special Operations Griffin doesn’t follow any of the established guidelines for writing a mystery so it’s impossible for the reader to even guess at who the bad guy is. That didn’t bother me as both plotlines are more story driven than beholden to the mystery aspect, but it would have been nice if Griffin had intertwined some evidence pointing at a character he’s mentioned previously.
As Special Operations rolls along it’s starts to get obvious that the police is going to need to get lucky to catch the Northwest Serial Rapist, and not shockingly that luck falls squarely on “golden boy” Matt Payne. Unfortunately that type of ending, while common in Griffin’s books, does detract from the overall story a bit. He does do a good job of leaving a couple of plot points open for the next book, The Victim, which is where the “Badge of Honor” series really starts to pick up some steam. More on that soon.