Available Time: A Howard Hamilton Ride-Along
by J. C. De Ladurantey

"Clare never saw the black Honda come up from the curb lane on Second Street. Nor did she see him run the red light or T-bone her car on the driver’s side."

The title of this engaging tale refers to the time a police officer spends making his own decisions about what to do rather than doing what he’s been assigned to do specifically. That’s the difference between assigned time and available time, and there’s a lot of available time in this story of a policeman whose personal tragedy upends his relatively complacent life and makes him take stock of his career, his family, and the future that lies ahead for both.

Hamilton is a patrolman with a decade of service under his belt. He’s comfortable in his current job but wonders if he should be pursuing a higher rank or a detective’s shield. His world is changed instantaneously with the death of his wife in a traffic accident. Now, coping with immeasurable loss and providing strength and support for his two teenage children override his personal aspirations and force him to consider not simply what’s best for him but what’s best for all. He’s helped along the way by a police officer’s widow, who has already experienced much of what he’s going through.

From a contextual perspective, Author De Ladurantey interweaves Hamilton’s circumstances with multiple crimes and interesting characters throughout the policeman’s journey from grief to potential acceptance. Subplots, the people involved, plus the motivations and behaviors that drive them add interesting layers to the main narrative that are both cohesive and credible. Stylistically, the writer shuns pretense for more straightforward, conversational prose. This is, quite simply, a different kind of cop tale—one longer on compassion than cruelty and one shorter on villainy than virtue.

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