Monday 29 August 2022



The Tyler Garrett scandal rocked the Spokane Police Department two years ago. Now, a consent decree governs the agency with Washington D.C. directing its reform. It’s a tumultuous time in the city, and public outcry over local and national events is high.

Change is in the air.

Officer Lee Salter is a third-generation cop who bleeds blue. Amid the departmental chaos, he does the only thing he can—be a good officer. That means showing up for every shift, responding to calls for service, and always doing the right thing. All the while, the Department of Justice and its local supporters hope to catch another officer in its net of reform.

Salter refuses to be that officer.

Melody Weaver is a teacher and activist who believes in a better way. Despite her demanding profession, she dedicates herself to the cause of reshaping policing in her city so that the terrible events—both local and national—can stop. To understand what needs to change, she needs to see the reality of the job up close.

That means a ride-along on the graveyard shift.

One night.

Two people.

And a nation’s problems.

The Ride-Along is the fifth in the Charlie 316 series from Zafiro and Conway and it's quite different from the earlier books, in that most of the events take place over the course of a graveyard shift with a veteran officer and a civilian observer who joins him for a night on patrol. The aftermath of a court case concludes the book, though the conclusion itself is up in the air, with an afterword by the authors explaining.

Spokane PD is under special measures. Scandals have rocked the department. Activists have been vociferous in their demands for change and reform and are seen as hostile towards the police. Positions are polarised, trust is low or non-existent.

I quite liked the set-up of the book, where an officer endures a shift with a civilian who is part of an organisation that is perceived by the cops as anti-police. The book is related in alternating chapters and depicts the events of the shift from the viewpoint of the cop and then the ride-along. It's interesting seeing both perspectives on the same event. The two main characters; Lee Salter, the cop and Melody Weaver, the civilian, debate, argue and discuss Salter's interactions with the public over the course of the evening.

It's a topical book given the recent events which have polarised opinions in the US over policing, giving rise to the Black Lives Matter movement. It's fair to say that the issues that have captured the conversation of late - the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor - are only the latest in a long line of controversial and disputed incidents. Police policies, tactics and interactions particularly with minority communities are under the spotlight.  

The two sides of the same story presentation and the conversations between the two almost combatants at times was an eye-opener. It's easy to form an opinion based around a headline or an incomplete narrative. The book was a reminder that listening and learning is always useful. Not everything is black or white, there's a multitude of grey in between.

Initially I felt the ending was a little bit abrupt and perhaps a cop-out. The afterword changed my mind.
Overall I enjoyed the book. I think it was very different from what I was expecting.

4 from 5

The earlier books in the series have all been enjoyed ...  Charlie 316Never the Crime, Badge Heavy and Code Four
Read - August, 2022
Published - 2022
Page count - 332
Source - review copy from authors
Format - Kindle


  1. I’ve read some Zafiro, but have not gotten to the Zafiro/Conway’s yet. These two writers are on top of current events.

    1. Elgin, well worth a look when you have time.

  2. Very often, a dual effort like this can feel choppy. But it sounds as though it worked well here, Col, and that's great. And I do like it when authors explore current events and themes without it dating the story. Glad you enjoyed this one.

    1. Margot, I've enjoyed all their collaborations to be fair. Hopefully they aren't done just yet.