Rookie policewoman Valorie Dawes has a mission: take men like Richard Harkins, a serial child molester, off the streets of her small hometown of Clayton, CT—for good. Things start off well as Val's trusted senior partner and mentor, Gil, shows her the ropes and helps her survive the nastiness they encounter on the streets—and in the chauvinistic office politics at the precinct.
Despite Gil's support, Val becomes increasingly isolated within the department and vilified in the public eye as reckless and incompetent. In response, she devotes all of her time and energy to chasing Harkins, but he proves to be both elusive and cruel, continuing to victimize young girls and pressing his threats closer and closer to Val's own inner circle.
Can Valorie overcome the trauma she suffered as a child and stop Harkins from hurting others like her—or will her bottled-up anger lead her to take reckless risks that put the people she loves in greater danger?
They stared at each other a long moment, with a slight smile creasing Gil’s face, and Val absorbing the implications of what he’d just told her. Would she sacrifice Gil’s life for a child’s if she had to choose, with no time to think? Or any other citizen? Her brother and his five-year-old daughter, yes, without a doubt. But what about a stranger?
She averted her eyes and focused on the neighborhood around her, taking in all that she saw. Two gray-haired men laughed at a joke one of them had just told. They looked kind—someone’s grandpas or uncles. A delivery truck rumbled past, honking its horn at a driver trying to turn the wrong way on a one-way street, resulting in a tense exchange of shouts and middle fingers. Did they merit more protection than a fellow cop? What about the gang members like Pope and Dog?
The crackling of a woman’s voice on their radios interrupted her reveries. “All units in the vicinity of Woodland Park,” said the dispatcher. “Backup needed on a 10-16 on Greenfield and Woodland. All units in the vicinity, please respond.”
“That’s a domestic disturbance,” Val said, her heart racing. “Aren’t we close to that intersection?”
“Very,” Gil said. He unclipped his radio. “Unit A-27, on our way to that 10-16,” he said. “We’re less than five minutes away on foot.”
“Make that three,” Val said, breaking into a run across the park. In a split second, she reached sprinting speed, heading toward Woodland Avenue.
Val: Thank you, all of you, for considering me for the open position on the Clayton, Connecticut police department.
Lieutenant Gibson: We’re thrilled to have you here, Ms. Dawes. Before we begin, do you have any questions?
Val: Only one. Why is everyone on this interview panel male?
Sergeant Alex “Pops” Papadopoulos: I’ll answer that one. It’s because we ain’t got many women in CPD. And that’s the way it should stay.
Gibson: What I think Pops is trying to say is that we need more women on the force, which is one big reason we’re interviewing you.
Pops: Is that what I was saying?
Paul Peterson: That’s how I’ll quote you in my blog. Ms. Dawes, as the outside observer on this interview panel, I have only one question: do you read my blog?
Val: I’ve been warned not to.
Gibson: Let’s get to the business at hand, shall we? Officer Kryzinski, would you start us off?
Gil Kryzinski: Thanks, Chief. As your future partner, Valorie—can I call you Valorie?
Val: Nobody’s called me that since I was thirteen. I go by Val now.
Gil: Val, then. Why do you want to be a police officer?
Val: Ever since I was a girl, I’ve wanted to bring criminals to justice. Especially rapists, pedophiles, and domestic abusers.
Pops: Why us? I mean, why them?
Val: Seriously? You’re asking me why I want to lock up creepy old men who prey on young girls?
Pops: Well, when you put it that way…
Peterson: Your uncle, Valentin Dawes—who also went by Val--was a local hero ten years ago on the force. Are you sure you’re not just trying to avenge his death?
Val: My uncle was an inspiration to me in all areas of my life. He was a great man. But I wanted to be a cop long before criminals shot him down. I always wanted to be just like him: courageous, honorable, and principled.
Gibson: He was a great cop and a great man.
Pops: So I suppose you think we should hire you just because of his legacy.
Val: Of course not. I wish to be considered on my own merits and accomplishments.
Gil: Which are considerable. You were second in your class at the Academy, and the only woman. A track and soccer star at the University of Connecticut, graduating cum laude. Do you actually have any faults?
Val: Um…I do have kind of a short temper.
Pops: And you’re kind of scrawny. What do you weigh, ninety pounds?
Val: One twenty-five. What do you weigh? Three hundred? Three fifty?
Pops: Er…next question, chief?
Peterson: I’ll take the next one. Ms. Dawes, is there anything in your past that might disqualify you from becoming a peace officer in Clayton?
Val: Other than my gender, you mean?
Peterson: Have you ever been a crime victim? Of, say, rape, harassment, or sexual abuse?
Val: That’s none of your business!
Gil: It sure isn’t. Val, what type of cop would you see yourself becoming?
Val: One that focuses on protecting our most vulnerable citizens from violent crime and brings perpetrators of those heinous crimes to justice.
Gil: So, an Avenger type? Or a Savior?
Val: I’m not really familiar with this taxonomy…
Gil: Oh, right. Don’t worry, I’ll train you on that.
Pops: I knew your Uncle, Dawes. Are you as reckless as he was?
Gil: Pops, if you have to ask a question like that, you clearly didn’t know her uncle.
Peterson: I have another question. Dawes, are you seeing anybody?
Val: Please tell me you’re joking.
Peterson: I would, but I don’t have a sense of humor.
Gibson: Ms. Dawes, final question. Thinking about your life story, what’s the message you’d most like to share with the world?
Val: That women can do anything a man can do—including the toughest and most dangerous of jobs, like police work. That their past, no matter how traumatic, doesn’t define them. Nor does their gender.
Peterson: I actually have one more question. Do you believe that a man can write sympathetically from the point of view of a woman? I ask because I’d like to do a profile of you, without, you know, actually asking you anything more about yourself.
Val: I’m not sure that you can, but that’s what people are saying about A Woman of Valor.
Gary Corbin is a writer, editor, and playwright in Camas, WA, a suburb of Portland, OR. Lying in Judgment, his Amazon best-selling legal thriller, was selected as Bookworks "Book of the Week" for July 11-18, 2016, and was the feature novel on Literary Lightbox's "Indie Spotlight" in February 2017. Gary's plays have enjoyed critical acclaim and have enjoyed several productions in regional and community theaters.
A homebrewer and coffee roaster, Gary loves to ski, cook, and watch his beloved Red Sox and Patriots. He hopes to someday train his dogs to obey. And when that doesn't work, he escapes to the Oregon coast with his sweetheart.
You can get your copy of Woman of Valor on Amazon.