A Cop's Life

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

During almost thirty years as a police officer, and now a senior sergeant in the Las Vegas police department, Randy Sutton has experienced all of the frightening depths and rewarding heights of police work. The pressures he describes are intense and bring to mind what soldiers describe in combat: long stretches of boredom punctuated by brief bursts of terror.

Sutton, whose beat takes him from the glitz of the Vegas Strip to the gritty, rundown industrial neighborhoods which tourists never see, relates about twenty incidents he has experienced during his career. They run the gamut from the grim to the poignant: his partner's suicide, the first man he killed in the line of duty, the murder of a witness he has sworn to protect, and the gratitude of a little girl he helped to cross the street. The last and most lengthy section of the book is a fictional Christmas story.

He also frankly describes the toll his work has taken on what little personal life he has. He drinks too much, is periodically depressed, and cannot sustain relationships except those with his fellow officers, the only ones who truly understand what he is going through. His work is made more difficult because in public he must suppress his emotions, maintaining a stoicism and aura of reassurance that he often does not feel inside.

One way Sutton has been able to cope with his difficult job is by talking about it, both in person and in print. The editor of the anthology...

(The entire section is 427 words.)