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C. R. (Chuck) Downing
Betrayal in Blue

Award-winning author C. R. Downing has released a new novel, an action-packed, character-rich police story that weaves action with intellect to engage the reader. Betrayal in Blue, while a work of fiction, is based on a true story told to C. R. Downing by a former cop who was involved. Violent Crime Task Force members and their families were targets of anonymous threats, vandalism, and drive-by shootings. This book tells the story of the brave men and women in blue and how they solved the leaks that wreaked havoc on their station and threatened their lives.

Book Launches on May 27, 2020.

In this tense, violent series launch set in 1984 Manzanita, Calif., PI Philip “Dancer” Mamba navigates among competing drug gangs and a station full of crooked cops. A pharmaceutical executive who's a secret drug dealer hires Mamba as part of a long-term scheme. The police chief, his volatile mistress, other officers, and a colorful cast of lowlifes have their own hidden motives, and Mamba, a former officer himself, has to tease them out. As he unravels everyone's plots, the criminals attempt to cover their tracks with murder and bribery, and Mamba assembles a team he hopes he can trust to bring justice to Manzanita.

Downing excels at jumping nimbly among multiple points of view, veering between police and criminals as both sides become increasingly desperate to get their way. There are some subplots that don't advance the main plot, leading to confusion and draining some of the tension, but overall, the scenes advance quickly. Downing demonstrates an impressive ability to describe an investigation with enough fascinating detail to satisfy the most obsessive police procedural enthusiast.

The richly developed characters are all stars: sociopathic drug kingpins; a police sergeant with a critically ill wife, whose marriage is described in heartbreaking detail; a former boxer trying to hold on to his dignity as he reaches his emotional and physical end. Downing doesn't deal in stereotypes, and readers will remember and sympathize with both heroes and villains. Even a low-level dealer gets a believable backstory and an emotional end: "The too-short roller coaster life... was over." The swiftly moving plots and indelible characters will keep readers invested in this thriller until the last page.

Takeaway: Meticulously drawn investigations and an unforgettable cast of heroes and villains will keep thriller fans immersed in this 1980s-set crime novel.

Great for fans of Joseph Wambaugh, Ed McBain.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: -
Editing: B+
Marketing copy: C

C. Gaughan, MS. Forensic Science

Betrayal in Blue is absorbing and suspenseful with a well thought out story and complex characters revolving around the treacherous drug trade, law enforcement efforts to fight the drug war and the dangers they face not only from the outside but from within. As a fan of thriller/mystery books and having an advanced degree in Forensic Science, I appreciate the care taken to portray accurate and realistic police procedures and situations in this exciting thriller. An excellent addition to my library!

J.L. Rizzo, Avid Reader

Typically, I would not be interested in a crime novel with the backdrop of the drug trade. Oftentimes, there is graphic or gratuitous violence and a sensationalistic “seedy” undercurrent that are not inviting to me. This novel is different. There are a number of characters introduced that become the focus of the storyline and together they reveal the complex dynamic and effects of human emotions and choices [betrayal, suspicion, greed, integrity, justice, truth-seeking]. This novel does leave you with unanswered questions and a desire to know “what happens next” with key characters. Not everything is tied up into a nice neat bow…great for those who desire character development and twists and turns in storylines that make you want to read more!

Jeanne Stein, author of The Anna Strong Chronicles

Fans of Sue Grafton will enjoy C. R. Downing’s Betrayal in Blue. This police/PI procedural takes place when detectives had to rely on their wits and instincts more than gadgets. It’s a roller coaster ride that will keep you guessing to the end.

K. Fine

I have always enjoyed a good crime story and this one did not disappoint. C.R. Downing introduces all the players in a detailed and well-thought-out manner so the reader begins rooting for the good guys and can’t wait to see the guilty get their due. The vantage point of which the reader has pulls you into the story as if you are part of the team, you care about the outcomes and feel their disappointments when a plan goes awry. Each chapter took me deeper and deeper into the story and not wanting to put the book down. I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a well-told story based on true facts. I can’t wait for the sequel to find out what happens next.

K. Newman, Former Homicide Detective

Betrayal in Blue grabs the reader’s attention from the opening pages and never lets go. Downing spins a web of relationships and develops characters and events that leave one wondering what is behind the next door. If you love a great mystery Betrayal in Blue will not disappoint!


I tend to judge a book, not by its cover, but by how quickly it pulls me into the story and whether it keeps me there. From the very first chapter, the reader is privy to the complexity of the web of deceit and treachery, a fly on the wall, if you will. The writing makes you feel like you’re an accomplice, knowing who the bad guys are, and cheering on the detectives as they work their way to the truth. The characters are rich and relatable, and their lives intertwined so beautifully. I found myself disappointed if I didn’t have time to read before bed each night and haven’t been so eager to get back to a story as I have with Betrayal in Blue. And discovering that it’s based on a true story and set in my home town makes it all the more personal. Truly a roller-coaster of a read that leaves you wanting more.

Midwest Book Review

This basic true-life event was recounted to author C. R. Downing by a former cop who was involved in the incident. Downing has taken that account and with a deftly crafted and impressively reader involving narrative storytelling style has made an inherently fascinating novel that vividly tells the complex and roller-coaster of a ride story of how those 'brave men and women in blue' ultimately solved the problem of departmental leaks that wreaked havoc on their station and their lives. "Betrayal In Blue" is the stuff from which block-buster movies are made, and while especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Police Procedural Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Betrayal In Blue" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Small Press Bookwatch: March 2020, James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief, The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Miss H. Downing, teacher and book aficionado

Betrayal in Blue is a fascinating fictional story inspired by an actual police task force situation. I enjoyed the mystery, the pace, and the unforgettable characters. The clues dropped throughout the story and the interesting web of intrigue kept me guessing and enthralled until the end. I was drawn into a world of private detectives, underground cartels, innocent victims, and internal moles. The loose ends were tied up neatly yet also intriguingly and I look forward to reading more in the Mamba Mystery series!

Renee Bautista, Avid Reader

Dancer’s Back

A well-detailed crime mystery with characters you’ll want to root for, and a few you’ll love to hate. Phil Mamba is an ex-cop turned private investigator with friends on the force and on the streets. Set in the 1980’s the references to times and places made the settings easy to picture in the mind’s eye. I enjoyed how the personalities played off each other, a good mix of humor with the darker aspects of crime.