Black detective's tough tale of life, love and crime

Richard Carter | 10/12/2012, 4:17 p.m.
After all, crime is only a left-handed form of human endeavor..."--Louis Calhern, "The Asphalt Jungle"...
Colony Records was my place for original Black R&B

The woman tells them the man doesn't live there. They believe her and proceed to Russ' home to pick up his handcuffs he had forgotten. What happens next causes each of their lives to unravel--compellingly related by Butts.

Hearing strange sounds in his house, Russ fears a burglary and draws his .38-caliber service revolver. Once inside, they trace the noises to a bedroom where Russ' wife, Gina, is in bed with an unfamiliar white man as their baby sleeps in another bedroom.

In the midst of the confusion--and Russ' rage--they realize this is the very same kind of behavior they heard about minutes earlier as the white waitress was accused by the Black man they restrained. Both are dumfounded by the coincidence.

Turning on the light, Russ accuses the white man of raping his wife and points the gun at him as Tony attempts to intervene. They struggle, Russ fires two shots into the ceiling and Gina's lover jumps out of bed and runs from the house naked. Russ' misery is compounded as Gina tells him she was not being raped, and that she loves the man.

Although heartbroken and angry, Russ is in love with Gina and still wants her. But the trauma sends him into a downward spiral and, although consoled by Tony and Alexis, he never recovers. Russ begins to drink heavily, his career suffers and his life ends tragically.

Meanwhile, while attempting to be Russ' best friend, Tony's own life is affected in unexpected ways. After some false starts, he and Alexis finally get together.

Butts' intimate knowledge of the ins and outs of the street cop routine enables him to clearly communicate the personal mindset of lawmen partners as events--some beyond their control--cause their world to crumble. And while making sure not to pass judgment on the actions of his real-life characters, readers know where the author stands.

After retiring, Butts counseled battered and homeless women and their children for a social service agency and headed an alarm installation and monitoring firm. He was also a security consultant for the Milwaukee public school system and city's Housing Authority.

With his experience as a Black officer, Butts will be well-served to write more about his years in law enforcement. Except for stereotyped movies, this is an area about which precious little is known. Who better to shed some light than someone who lived the life?