Behind The Book: BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT by Neal Griffin
It’s been a tough year for cops in the public relations department. From small town Missouri to New York City, from South Carolina to McKenna, Texas, cops have been taking some serious media hits. As a twenty-five year police veteran, I realize much of the bad press is of our own making; maybe even well deserved. But it seems the media’s “feeding frenzy” has caused some people to forget important facts about the men and woman who police America. First and foremost, most cops are overwhelmingly hardworking professionals, out there doing the job for the right reasons and in the right way. Second, and nearly as important, cops are human. In the heat of a confrontational moment, decisions must be made without the luxury of time and debate. Most often, those decisions are solid and hold up well under even the most intense scrutiny. But when bad decisions are made, things can go wrong in a big, big way. All this being said, I think it’s a good time to introduce the world to a cop who has some experience on both sides of the decision-making spectrum. A man by the name of Sergeant Benjamin Sawyer, the lead protagonist in Benefit of the Doubt.
Ben Sawyer is a cop on the rise in Oakland, CA, where he’s in charge of the department Gang Enforcement Team. Ben is that cop you need at 2:00 AM, when you’re lying in bed next to your spouse, with your kids asleep down the hall, and you hear the sound of the shattering glass of your front door. You listen as someone walks around your living room and think to yourself maybe owning a gun wouldn’t have been such a bad idea, because now all you have is a phone. So you pick it up and dial 9-1-1. With your heart pounding against your sternum, you immediately forget all about those crazy videos you’ve been seeing on CNN. You set aside the stories in the Baltimore Sun and The New York Times and you whisper, “Send me the biggest, toughest cop you’ve got, because someone’s broken into my house, and now they’re coming up my stairs.”
Ben Sawyer is the cop you want when the shit hits the fan, and throughout his long career, he has proven that time and time again.
That is, he’s a great cop until that single moment in time when he snaps. On a hot summer day in deep east Oakland, Ben comes up against a wanna-be cop killer and commits an act so egregious and unforgivable, he’s immediately branded the media’s new poster boy for police brutality. Ben loses everything and in the end, the only job he can find is working for his father-in-law on a small police department in Newberg, Wisconsin. A job that, on the law enforcement career ladder, comes in about six rungs below mall cop. When his wife, Alexandra, is arrested for a murder Ben knows she didn’t commit, he must put aside the past and be the kind of cop he’s always been. Determined to clear her name, Ben finds himself traveling a lonely road of redemption that will lead to a very bloody and very violent confrontation with a revenge-fueled convict named Harlan Lee.
Neal Griffin is a Wisconsin native and twenty-five year veteran of Southern California law enforcement. His first novel, Benefit of the Doubt, was published by Forge Books in May, 2015 and has spent four weeks on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list. Booklist wrote, “This debut boasts the creepy, dangerous feel of the film Cape Fear.” To learn more, visit his website at www.nealgriffin.com