Adam Plantinga

400 Things Cops Know, Adam PlantingaAdam Plantinga
400 Things Cops Know 

In crime fiction, police are routinely portrayed as dim-witted, corrupt, or incompetent—if not all three at once. That makes it both refreshing and reassuring to know that there are cops like Adam Plantinga on the beat.

Plantinga, a 13-year veteran of the Milwaukee and San Francisco police departments, writes in much the same way he approaches his job: with common sense, dry humor, dedication, and shrewdness born of long experience. His engaging, pleasant style can turn on a dime from pithy sound bites (“Who keeps ten grand in their kitchen? Drug dealers, that’s who”) to heartbreaking tales of elder or child abuse.

Most of what Plantinga knows wasn’t learned in a police academy. Why do targets at the shooting range have the faces of actual cops? Where are you most likely to find fingerprints in a stolen car? What “tells” are tip-offs to a concealed weapon?

Personal stories inevitably show up alongside the 400 topics addressed. My favorite deals with squad car cops in an idle moment discussing which monsters they could defeat in hand-to-hand combat: “Dracula presents logistical problems because he can turn into a bat, which would be tricky to catch.”

Every page has its one-liners, ranging from “Sometimes police work is like the circus. You’re just there to put on a good show” to the wonderfully understated “Criminals do things that defy understanding.” Explaining his decision to pull men over for traffic stops more often than women, Plantinga adds, “As my wife is quick to point out to me, I don’t know much about women.”

Maybe not. But he knows enough about the business of policing to fill a page-turner—and if you read it, you will too.

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