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CrimeSpree collected "Best of 2004" lists from some of our favorite folks...

Issue 4

sneak peek:

Top Books of 2004
Jason Starr
  • DEADFOLK, Charlie Williams
  • THE KILLING OF THE TINKERS, Ken Bruen
  • TWO-WAY SPLIT, Allan Guthrie
  • WALKING MONEY, James O. Born
  • THE CRIME TRADE, Simon Kernick
Tony Perona
  • JUST ONE LOOK, Harlan Coben
  • DEATH OF A THOUSAND CUTS, Barbara D'Amato
  • TEN BIG ONES, Janet Evanovich
  • ARTISTIC LICENSE, Julie Hyzy
  • WINDY CITY KNIGHTS, by Michael A. Black
  • WHISKEY SOUR, J.A. Konrath
Mary Logue
  • POPULAR MUSIC FROM VITTULA, Mikael Niemi
  • THE NAIL KNOT, John Galligan
  • MIDDLESEX, Jeffrey Eugenides
  • PLAINS CRAZY, J.M Hayes
  • ALONE AT NIGHT, KJ Erickson
  • CHOKE POINT, James Mitchell
Carl Brookins
  • THE EDGE OF THE GULF, Hadley Hury
  • THE TARNISHED EYE, Judith Guest
  • FIRST, DO NO EVIL, Larry Karp
  • THE FALL, Michael Allen Dymmoch
  • PLAINS CRAZY, J. M. Hayes
  • MURDER IN MONTPARNASSE, Kerry Greenwood
  • BONE HARVEST, Mary Logue
  • GODLESS, Pete Hautman (YA, not strictly a mystery)
  • HARD, HARD CITY, Jim Fusilli
KJ Erickson
  • BLITZ, Ken Bruen
  • GHOST WARS, Steve Coll
  • THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHTIME, Mark Haddon
  • STALIN, THE COURT OF THE RED TSAR, Simon Montefiore
  • THE SUNDAY PHILOSOPHY CLUB, Alexander McCall Smith
  • THE DOGS OF BABEL, Carolyn, Parkhurst
Cara Black
  • THE VOICE OF THE VIOLIN: AN INSPECTOR MONTALBANO MYSTERY, (think that's the title) Andrea Camilleri
  • THE LONE GUNMAN, Jean-Paul Manchette
  • BERLIN NOIR (a trilogy), Phillip Kerr
  • THE DETECTIVE INSPECTOR HUSS, Helene Tursten
  • GONE TOMORROW: A BILL SLIDER MYSTERY by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
  • THE BOOK OF SALT, Monique Truong
  • BALSHEBARS DAUGHTER, Barbara Nadel
  • THE TERRA COTTA DOG, Andrea Camilleri
  • MAIGRET IN MONTMARTRE, Georges Simenon
  • THE KITE RUNNER, Khaled Hosseni
  • THE LOVER, Marguerite Duras
  • BUNNY ALICE (TELLING LIES TO ALICE in the States), Laura Wilson
  • NANA, Emile Zola
David Corbett
  • COTTONWOOD, Scott Phillips
  • THE GUARDS, Ken Bruen
  • BAG MEN, Mark Costello
  • DIRTY TRICKS, Michael Dibdin
  • LIE IN THE DARK, Dan Fesperman
  • BANGKOK 8, John Burdett
  • THE 25TH HOUR, David Benioff
  • THE PLAGUE, Albert Camus
  • BRINGING OUT THE DEAD, Joe Connelly
  • THE COMPANY OF STRANGERS, Robert Wilson
  • FLASH HOUSE, Aimee Liu
  • Non-Fiction:
  • BEST WORDS, BEST ORDER, Stephen Dobyns
  • DEATH SQUADS IN GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE, Bruce B. Campbell & Arthur D. Brenner
  • OUR OWN BACKYARD: THE UNITED STATES IN CENTRAL AMERICA 1977-1992, William M. Leo Grande
  • WHEN THINGS FALL APART, Pema Chodron
  • THE GREAT UNRAVELING, Paul Krugman
Victor Gischler
  • COTTONWOOD by Scott Phillips
  • All the HARRY POTTER books (I crammed them all in this year after my wife nagged me to read them -- and I liked them!)
  • CHARLIE OPERA by Charlie Stella
  • ALTERNATE CARBON by Richard K. Morgan (as well as the sequel BROKEN ANGELS)
  • REDEMPTION STREET by Reed Coleman.
Val McDermid
  • TOKYO, Mo Hayder
  • MIDNIGHT CAB, James Nicholson
  • MONKEEWRENCH, PJ Tracy:
  • AMAGANSETT, Mark Mills
  • GOOD MORNING, MIDNIGHT, Reginald Hill
  • PERCEPTION OF DEATH, Louise Anderson
  • THE 37TH HOUR, Jodi Compton
  • THE WAY THE CROW FLIES, Ann-Marie Macdonald
Rick Riordan
  • THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHTTIME, Mark Haddon
  • PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS, Dave Barry &Ridley Pearson
  • THE HOUSE OF THE SCORPION, Nancy Farmer
  • THE POLISH OFFICER, Alan Furst
  • HOOT, Carl Hiassen
  • THE AMBER SPYGLASS, Phillip Pullman
Denise Swanson
  • DEAD TO THE WORLD, Charlaine Harris
  • HIGH COUNTRY FALL, Margaret Maron
  • BLUE BLOOD, Susan McBride
  • SWALLOW THE HOOK, SW Hubbard
  • SONG OF SUSANNAH, Stephen King
  • HOT ON THE TRAIL, Jane Isenberg
  • HIGHLIGHTS TO HEAVEN, Nancy Cohen
  • FOUR ON THE FLOOR, Deborah Morgan
  • INDIGO DYING, Susan Wittig Albert
  • MALLETS AFORETHOUGHT, Sarah Graves
Barbara Serranella
  • THE ENEMY, Lee Child
  • COTTONWOOD, Scott Phillips
  • DYNAMITE ROAD, Andrew Klavan,
  • THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHTTIME, Mark Haddon,
  • THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE, Audrey Niffeneggar
  • THE GUARDS, Ken Bruen,
  • RADIO ACTIVITY, Bill Fitzhugh,
  • DEAD I MAY WELL BE, Adrian McKinty,
  • OPEN SEASON ON LAWYERS, Taffy Cannon,
  • FATAL TRUTH, Robin Burcell.
Libby Hellman
  • BLOOD HOLLOW, William Kent Krueger
  • AN IMAGE OF DEATH, Libby Hellman (can I nominate my own?)
  • BY A SPIDER'S THREAD, Laura Lippman
  • DEATH OF 1000 CUTS, Barb D'Amato
  • AN INTIMATE GHOST, Ellen Hart
  • RIOT ACT, ZoŽ Sharp
Joe Konrath
  • RAINSTORM, Barry Eisler
  • TOKYO, Mo Hayder
  • HUNDREDTH MAN, by Jack Kerley
  • DARKLEY DREAMING DEXTER, Jeff Lindsey
  • PIPSQUEAK, Brian Wiprud
  • HOT AND SWEATY REX, Eric Garcia
  • CRISSCROSS, F. Paul Wilson
  • ABSOLUTE INSTINCT, Robert W. Walker
  • SANDSTORM, James Rollins
  • BRIMSTONE, Preston and Child
Jim Born
  • REDEMPTION STREET, Reed Coleman
  • TWISTED CITY, Jason Starr
  • THE GUARDS, Ken Bruen
  • THE NARROWS, Michael Connelly
  • HARD, HARD CITY, Jim Fusilli
  • and of course, WALKING MONEY (James O. Born)
Pete Hautman
  • MIDDLESEX, Jeffrey Eugenides
  • BONE HARVEST, Mary Logue
  • THE ASTONISHING X-MEN #3, Joss Whedon
Robert Randisi
  • THE NARROWS, Michael Connelly
  • WHILE I DISAPPEAR, Edward Wright
  • PLAYING WITH FIRE, Peter Robinson
  • A QUESTION OF BLOOD, Ian Rankin
  • FLESH AND BLOOD, John Harvey
  • LAZY BONES, Mark Billingham
  • MIDNIGHT PASS, Stuart Kaminsky
  • RESTORATION, John Ed Bradley
  • LOADED DICE, James Swain
  • THE GUARDS, Ken Bruen
Allan Guthrie
  • THE WHITE TRILOGY, Ken Bruen
  • BLITZ, Ken Bruen
  • VIXEN, Ken Bruen
  • THE GUARDS, Ken Bruen
  • THE KILLING OF THE TINKERS, Ken Bruen
  • THE MAGDALEN MARTYRS, Ken Bruen
  • HACKMAN BLUES, Ken Bruen
  • LONDON BOULEVARD, Ken Bruen
  • AMERICAN SKIN, Ken Bruen
  • DISPATCHING BAUDELAIRE, Ken Bruen
If you think that's a little ... um ... one-sided, then feel free to use this list instead: Top 10 Books I Read That Were Published This Year (in alphabetical order by author):
  • LITTLE GIRL LOST, Richard Aleas
  • THE BIG BLIND, Ray Banks
  • DISPATCHING BAUDELAIRE, Ken Bruen
  • DARK AS NIGHT, Mark T. Conard
  • EARTHQUAKE WEATHER, Terrill Lee Lankford
  • FADE TO BLONDE, Max Phillips
  • TWISTED CITY, Jason Starr
  • SECRET DEAD MEN, Duane Swierczynski
  • DEADFOLK, Charlie Williams
  • FAST LANE, Dave Zeltserman
Robert Ferrigno
  • BANGKOK 8, John Burdett
  • CALIFORNIA GIRL, Jeff Parker
  • RAIN FALL, Barry Eisler
  • THE DEVIL'S FINGER, William Ungerman
  • BEYOND BELIEF, V.S. Naipul
  • PEOPLE DIE, Kevin Wignall
  • MIAMI BLUES, Charles Willeford (I read it every year to stay humble)
  • UNDERGROUND, Haruki Murakami
  • THE FORENSIC CASEBOOK, N.E. Genge
  • UNCLE SCROOGE (COLLECTED STORIES), Carl Barks
Steven Torres
  • SOME DANGER INVOLVED, Will Thomas
  • THE CON MAN'S DAUGHTER, Ed Dee
  • THE SHAPE OF WATER, Andrea Camilieri
  • DIAMOND DUST, Peter Lovesey
  • A PLACE OF EXECUTION, Val McDermid
  • THE WELL OF LOST PLOTS, Jasper Fforde
  • BITTER SUGAR, Carolina Garcia Aguilera
  • BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, Edmund Morgan
  • EMERSON, Lawrence Buell
  • GETTYSBURG, Stephen Sears
Don Harstad
  • Four of the Fforde books starring Thursday Next. THE EYRE AFFAIR, LOST IN A GOOD BOOK, SOMETHING ROTTEN, and THE WELL OF LOST PLOTS.
  • THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING, by TH White
  • THE PROUD TOWER, by Barbara Tuchman
  • SMILEY'S PEOPLE, by Le Carre
  • CITIES IN FLIGHT, by James Blish
  • THE 911 COMMISSION REPORT
  • LIFE BEYOND EARTH, by Timothy Ferris
  • Best I can do, as I'm just finishing writing one and don't read while I do that.
Gregg Hurwitz
  • THE CONSTANT GARDENER, John le Carre
  • MANHATTAN NOCTURNE, Colin Harrison
  • CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHTTIME, Mark Haddon
  • THE MAGUS, John Fowles
  • NEWJACK, Ted Conover
  • MAN AND WIFE, Drew Klavan
  • CALIFORNIA GIRL, T Jeff Parker
  • LIFE OF PI, what's his head? (Yann Martel)
  • THE ALIENIST, Caleb Carr
  • HELL'S ANGELS, Hunter S. Thompson
Jim Fusilli
  • TRAIN, Pete Dexter
  • THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA, Philip Roth
  • RAVELSTEIN, Saul Bellow
  • THE MARBLE FAUN, Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • SHORT SICILIAN NOVELS, Giovanni Vega
  • THE PATH TO THE NEST OF SPIDERS, Italo Calvino
  • SOUTHWESTERLY WIND, Luis-Alfredo Garcia-Roza
  • STONE CRIBS, Kris Nelscott
  • THE PRINCE OF PROVIDENCE, Mike Stanton
  • CHRONICLES VOL. 1, Bob Dylan
Reed Farrel Coleman
  • HARD, HARD CITY, Jim Fusilli
  • ABSENT FRIENDS, S.J. Rozan
  • THE ICE HARVEST, Scott Phillips
  • BLACK MAPS, Peter Spiegelman
  • THE DRAMATIST, Ken Bruen
  • TWISTED CITY, Jason Starr
  • WALKING MONEY, James o. Born
  • LOVERS CROSSING, James C. Mitchell
  • THE LONG FIRM, Jake Arnott
  • REDEMPTION STREET, Reed Farrell Coleman
Keith Snyder
  • SOUND AND SENSE, Laurence Perrine
  • ABSENT FRIENDS, S.J. Rozan
  • BANGKOK 8, John Burdett
  • THE SUMMING UP, W. Somerset Maugham
  • MORALITY PLAY, Barry Unsworth
  • EVERY SECRET THING, Laura Lippman
Jeremiah Healy
  • WITHOUT FAIL, Lee Child
  • IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER, Julia Spenser-Fleming
  • IN A DRY SEASON, Peter Robinson,
  • SMALL TOWN, Lawrence Block
  • [book is in Maine, plot is the nationally known lawyer gets sucked into the murder of a homeless man], Lisa Scottoline
Manuel Ramos
I can't give you ten. However, the one book I recommend to anyone who will listen is THE DEVIL'S HIGHWAY by Luis Alberto Urrea (2004). The book is about desperation, courage and tragedy, and it is one of the most important books I've read in any year. I think everyone should read it, especially those in positions of political influence or who have political ambitions.
Jim Winter
  • THE GUARDS, Ken Bruen
  • DIA DE LOS MUERTOS, Kent Harrington
  • THE BLACK DAHLIA, James Ellroy
  • PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT, Phillip Roth
  • FAREWELL, MY LOVELY, Raymond Chandler
  • BY A SPIDER'S THREAD, Laura Lippman
  • FOR THE DOGS, Kevin Wignall
  • CALIFORNIA GIRL, T. Jefferson Parker
  • TONIGHT I SAID GOODBYE, Michael Koryta
  • Honorable mentions: SMALL CRIMES, by Dave Zeltserman (manuscript), THE BIG BLIND, by Ray Banks, COLD DAY IN PARADISE, by Steve Hamilton, and THE WAY SOME PEOPLE DIE, by Ross MacDonald.
Kevin Wignall
Mea culpa - I haven't read enough books this year to produce a top ten! And most of what I have read is non-fiction. However, I thoroughly enjoyed THE BRIDGE OF SIGHS by Olen Steinhauer, loved STARTER FOR TEN by David Nicholls, and there's a whole load of books that I'm part way through or on my tbr pile that I know will be favourites if I could only find the time....
Can I talk about the books I detested? "GB84" by David Peace, "CLOUD ATLAS" by David Mitchell, "NOTES ON A SCANDAL" by ZoŽ Heller, "THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME" by Mark Haddon - all of them simply awful. Sorry.
Simon Kernick
  • EVERY SECRET THING, Laura Lippman
  • JUST ONE LOOK, Harlan Coben
  • JUDAS PIG, Horace Silver
  • TWISTED CITY, Jason Starr
  • THE GUARDS, Ken Bruen
  • DYNAMITE ROAD, Andrew Klavan
  • THE NARROWS, Michael Connelly
  • WHITE WOLF, David Gemmell
  • TOKYO, Mo Hayder
  • DEATH BY HOLLYWOOD, Stephen Bochco
Ken Bruen
  • TWISTED CITY, Jason Starr
  • THE JAMES DEANS, Reed Farrell Coleman
  • CHEAPSKATES, Charlie Stella -- Okay, not technically out yet but the best of any year.
  • TWO WAY SPLIT, Al Guthrie
  • THE BIG BLIND, Ray Banks
  • NORTHCOAST SHAKEDOWN, James Winter
  • BLACK MAPS, Pete Speigleman
  • PISTOL POETS, Victor Gischler
  • THE CONFESSION, Dominaic Stansberry
  • SECRET DEAD MAN, Duane Swiziernysnki
Mark Billingham
  • FLESH AND BLOOD, John Harvey
  • TOKYO, Mo Hayder
  • HARD REVOLUTION, George Pelecanos
  • INDELIBLE, Karin Slaughter
  • DEADFOLK, Charlie Williams
  • DINO, Nick Tosches
  • THE WHITE ROOM, Martyn Waites
  • NOCTURNES, John Connolly
  • JOHNNY CASH - THE LIFE OF AN AMERICAN ICON, Stephen Miller
  • TEMPERANCE TOWN, John Williams
  • BY A SPIDER'S THREAD, Laura Lippman
John Connolly
  • HARD REVOLUTION, George Pelecanos
    Head and shoulders above anything else published in the genre this year, and as good as anything he's ever done.
  • BRILLIANCE OF THE MOON, Lian Hearn
    The final part of the Chronicles of the Otori trilogy set in a version of feudal Japan. The best work of its kind since Pullman's His Dark Materials...
  • RUBICON, Tom Holland
    A crash course in Roman history, complete with blood, battles and some very imaginative deaths.
  • TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY, John le Carre,
    An old book, I know, but I only got around to reading it this year
  • A FORTUNE TELLER TOLD ME, Tiziano Terzani
    Another older book, but topical as Terzini died this year. Wonderful, and very moving
  • THE CHEESE MONKEYS, Chip Kidd
    A college novel, concerned in part about the nature of design, and very funny
  • DOWN AND DIRTY PICTURES, Peter Biskind
    Not quite in the same league as his Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, but still good value for the movie nerd
  • THE DEVIL'S HIGHWAY, Luis Urrea
  • THE BURNING GIRL, Mark Billingham
Rick Mofina
  • FIFTH SON, Barbara Fradkin
  • THE DEVIL'S IN THE DETAILS, Mary Jane Maffini
  • DEATH'S GOLDEN WHISPER, RJ Harlick
  • SOME REASON IN MADNESS, Cathy Vasas-Brown
  • CUBA STRAIT, Carsten Stroud
  • LEAVE ME BY DYING, Rosemary Aubert
  • MR. DOYLE & DR. BELL, Howard Engel
  • THE MAGYAR VENUS, Lyn Hamilton
  • WISDOM OF THE BONES, Christopher Hyde
  • BE MINE, Rick Mofina (What the heck, I'm biased but I liked the book!)
Laura Lippman's pick for what she's looking forward to in 2005
  • DRAMA CITY, George Pelecanos. George does a woman -- wait, let me rephrase that. DRAMA CITY will be Pelecanos's first book built around a female protagonist and I can't wait.
  • Simon Kernick's follow-up to THE BUSINESS OF DYING, called A GOOD DAY TO DIE according to the website.
  • Mark Billingham's next book, LIFELESS.
  • BLOODLINES, Jan Burke. (Okay, a bit of a cheat, as I do have this one and it's brilliant.)
  • CASE HISTORIES, Kate Atkinson, because I won't get to it until 2005.
  • The last installment in Madison Smartt Bell's HAITIAN TRILOGY, ditto.
  • Something really funny and unexpected preferably set in New York, among people with expensive sheets and grooming products. This the book I always hope to read when I got suckered into buying some alleged zeitgeist novel. But I never quite find it. I want a literary Jacqueline Susann. Is that so wrong?
  • AMERICAN GIRL, by Susan Choi. (I bought it in hardcover, too, but I buy books like wine. Which is to say, I store them until I'm ready to read them, a determination that has nothing to do with their quality.)
  • Short story submissions for "BALTIMORE NOIR."
  • Thomas Kelly's "EMPIRE RISING."
Gary Phillips
  • NEVER THE SAME AGAIN: A ROCK 'N' ROLL GOTHIC, Jesse Sublett
  • THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED: DEMOCRACY, THE INTERNET, AND THE OVERTHROW OF EVERYTHING, Joe Trippi
  • TALES TO ASTONISH: JACK KIRBY, STAN LEE, AND THE AMERICAN COMIC BOOK REVOLUTRION, Ronin Ro
  • EATS, SHOOTS & LEAVES, by Lynne Truss
  • BROOKLYN NOIR (short stories taking place in each section of Brooklyn), edited Tim McLoughlin
  • ANYTHING YOU SAY CAN AND WILL BE USED AGAINST YOU (short stories by ex-cop), Laurie Lynn Drummond
  • THE WORKING POOR: INVISIBLE IN AMERICA, David K. Shipler
  • SLEEPER, Ed Brubaker and Sean (no relation) Phillips
  • OVERWORLD: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A RELUCTANT SPY, Larry J. Kolb (non-fiction or fiction?)
  • WAR IS A RACKET, Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler (originally published in 1935, republished in 2003, but still appropriate for this year)
  • MOANIN' AT MIDNIGHT: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HOWLIN' WOLF, James Segrest and Mark Hoffman.
Brian Wiprud
  • FLASHMAN AND THE REDSKINS, George MacDonald Frazer
  • CALIFORNIA GIRL, T. Jefferson Parker
  • WINTER KILL, CJ Box
  • WHISKEY SOUR, JA Konrath
  • LITTLE BIG MAN, Thomas Berger
Alafair Burke
  • THE NARROWS, Michael Connelly
  • R IS FOR RICOCHET, Sue Grafton
  • THE ENEMY, Lee Child
  • LOADED DICE, James Swain
  • SHADOW MEN, Jonathon King
  • IN THE MOON OF RED PONIES, James Lee Burke
  • MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN, Jonathan Lethem (thank you, Denise Hamilton, for the recommendation)
  • PHOENIX, John Connor
  • KILLER SMILE, Lisa Scottoline
  • FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER, E.L. Konigsburg (a permanent fixture on any top 10 list of mine)
Peter Robinson
  • LAZY BONES, Mark Billingham
  • THE NARROWS, Michael Connelly
  • CHRONICLES VOLUME ONE, Bob Dylan
  • THE MURDER EXCHANGE, Simon Kernick
  • UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN, Jon Krakauer
  • CARELESS LOVE: THE UNMAKING OF ELVIS PRESLEY, Peter Guralnick
  • HARD REVOLUTION, George Pelecanos
  • FLESHMARKET CLOSE, Ian Rankin
  • DOCTOR WHO: THE LEGEND, Justin Richards
  • DISORDERED MINDS, Minette Walters
Lauren Henderson
  • APPRENTICE TO THE FLOWER POET Z, Debra Weinstein
  • DROP CITY, T. Coraghessan Boyle
  • FORTUNES OF THE DEAD, Lynn S Hightower
  • HOUSE OF WOMEN, Lynn Freed
  • EVERY SECRET THING, Laura Lippman
  • RUNAWAY, Alice Munro
Vicki Hendricks
  • TWISTED CITY, Jason Starr
  • A FINE DARK LINE, Joe R. Lansdale
  • PISTOL POETS, Victor Gischler
Barry Eisler
  • CHILD OF GOD, Cormac McCarthy
    An incredibly spare and dark yet at times stunningly lyrical novel of depravity in Appalachia.
  • CHRONICLES, VOL. 1, Bob Dylan
    A fascinating memoir of a young man's improbable journey through a tumultuous era. Dylan's prose is worthy of his lyrics.
  • GOING POSTAL, Terry Pratchett
    The latest insightful, hilarious, entertaining entry in the best-selling Discworld series.
  • THE GUARDS, Ken Bruen
    The grit and gloom of Ireland's Galway is both reflected and redeemed by protagonist Jack Taylor's battle with demons within and without.
  • ON COMBAT: THE PSYCHOLOGY AND PHYSIOLOGY OF DEADLY COMBAT IN WAR AND PEACE, Dave Grossman and Loren Christensen
    The successor to the groundbreaking ON KILLING, a hair raising, sometimes heartrending examination of its subject and essential reading for law enforcement and military personnel.