Sisters in Crime, a lively group of women devoted to reading (and writing) crime fiction, invited me to their December meeting last weekend to talk about my novel We All Fall Down. I was asked to touch on the idea of using real-life events as a springboard to fiction, which was just fine by me. The heroine of We All Fall Down is a woman cop, a rookie, modeled on the kind of police women I saw while covering cop shops during my newspaper days, and one particular East Brunswick officer who got so much shit from the male cops on the force that she filed a discrimination suit against the township and walked off with a settlement just a little below a half-million dollars. The township paid it gladly: Had the case gone to trial, she would have cleaned their clocks for them.
The plight of that woman, whose looks were ragged so mercilessly that she actually underwent plastic surgery in a vain attempt to stop the abuse, came up during the discussion. Since the meeting was held in Jamesburg, a tiny community just south of the township, I shouldn’t have been surprised that one of the women in attendance knew the case. But what really surprised me was that she was also a friend of the woman who had filed the lawsuit.
It was a brief chat, no more. The woman left police work behind, had some more cosmetic surgery, then used her money to get a degree in psychology. Apparently she now works as a counselor somewhere.
A happy ending to a nasty story.