Barbara D'Amato is the author of two Chicago-based series, one with freelance reporter Cat Marsala and the other being what she calls her "Chicago police series." The second title in the latter group was 1998's Good Cop, Bad Cop, based on the real-life notorious 1969 Chicago police raid on the Black Panthers, which killed Fred Hampton. D'Amato uses that as a jumping off point to tell a modern-day Cain and Abel story, featuring two sons of a bullying cop father: Nick Bertolucci, who was part of the Black Panther raid and years later is now Chicago's superintendent of police, and his brother Aldo, the "bad cop" who hates his brother enough to try and sabotage his career after finding evidence that links Nick to one of the deaths in the assault. D'Amato throws in an interesting cast of supporting characters, including Suze Figueroa, the detective who's brought back from D'Amato's first Chicago Police Series novel, Killer.App (1996).
D'Amato prides herself on her research, spending time with cops and walking her mysteries through Chicago's neighborhoods to figure out the timing of crimes. Although she says her favorite author is Agatha Christie ("no wasted words, and plots like steel traps"), she uses a punchy, staccato style better suited to the gritty day-to-day details from cops on the beat, and ratchets up the page-turning quotient with short sentences, paragraphs and chapters. She even adds some dark humor into the mix—not surprising she's worked as carpenter for stage magic illusions, assistant tiger handler, and written musical comedies—as with this scene after a body is found on the rail tracks:
Fiddleman got up the el stairs faster than Reilly, who was a fat, pink-colored white man of forty-five.
Fiddleman approached the stock-still el train, on which a few dazed night workers sat. He guessed there were maybe six people on the train, at what was now 1:17.
Three of the passengers, as well as the train's engineer, had got out. A middle-aged man in a camel hair jacket was throwing up at the far end of the station, which was only fifteen feet away, not nearly far enough.
An elderly woman, easily seventy-five, wearing carpet slippers with slits cut for her corns despite the cold weather, was looking down at the tracks. Fiddleman was about to take her gently by the shoulders and move her away from the horrible scene when she said, "Christ, and I just had liver for dinner."
Fiddleman hoped she was speaking from some sort of civilian shock. Then he thought in an instant's flash of remorse, who do I know what sort of life she's had, she's here on the el at this hour, this weather? At her age.
Then he looked down at the track and understood what she meant.
When asked once what Chicago has to offer mystery writers, she replied, "Chicago has absolutely everything. It's a beautiful city. It has architecture you'll never see anywhere else. And it has a lot of places to hide. There are a lot of old tunnels in Chicago—there are old freight tunnels, abandoned subway tunnels. You can hide here. You can also blend in. Chicago has every ethnic neighborhood known to man. There are so many neighborhoods where you can blend in, depending on how you dress."
Good Cop Bad Cop won the 1998 Carl Sandburg Award for Excellence in Fiction and the Readers Choice Lovey Award at the 1999 Love is Murder Conference. D'Amato is also a past president of the Mystery Writers of America and of Sisters in Crime International.