Policewoman One

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

POLICEWOMAN ONE yields numerous incidents and anecdotes drawn from Hays’s experience working for the LAPD. Her stories revolve around her participation in undercover VICE operations; her bringing a “woman’s touch” to difficult situations through empathy and intuition; and comical sketches which reveal Hays as determined to see herself in a humorous light. Another theme which resurfaces throughout the autobiography is Hays’s lonely and turbulent childhood, including sexual abuse, and her consequent search for a “home,” which she finds in the LAPD.

Readers expecting a consistent feminist viewpoint or insightful social commentary will be disappointed by POLICEWOMAN ONE. Although Hays frequently suggests that she is an advocate of women’s rights, the message she offers as a female professional is contradictory at best. Her adulation of her burlesque-dancer mother and ex-Madame grandmother suggests an inspiriting identification with her female forebears, but the advice Hays draws from her mother centers on the art of enticing and keeping amused a male audience—in Hays’s case, that of her male peers in the police force. Law enforcement becomes a performing art, and for Hays, always the actress, the details of the outfit she will wear for her next undercover assignment become more important than the particular crime under investigation. All too often, Hays’s limited understanding of contexts larger than her own desire to “make an entrance” is demonstrated in her frequent use of the blithe term “bad guys” when designating the criminals she so relentlessly pursues.