Breaking Blue

Front Cover
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Nov 16, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 188 pages
36 Reviews
“No one who enjoys mystery can fail to savor this study of a classic case of detection.” 
On the night of September 14, 1935, George Conniff, a town marshal in Pend Oreille County in the state of Washington, was shot to death.  A lawman had been killed, yet there seemed to be no uproar, no major investigation.  No suspect was brought to trial.  More than fifty years later, the sheriff of Pend Oreille County, Tony Bamonte, in pursuit of both justice and a master’s degree in history, dug into the files of the Conniff case—by then the oldest open murder case in the United States.  Gradually, what started out as an intellectual exercise became an obsession, as Bamonte asked questions that unfolded layer upon layer of unsavory detail.
                In Timothy Egan’s vivid account, which reads like a thriller, we follow Bamonte as his investigation plunges him back in time to the Depression era of rampant black-market crime and police corruption.  We see how the suppressed reports he uncovers and the ambiguous answers his questions evoke lead him to the murder weapon—missing for half a century—and then to the man, an ex-cop, he is convinced was the murderer.
                Bamonte himself—a logger’s son and a Vietnam veteran—had joined the Spokane police force in the late 1960s, a time when increasingly enlightened and educated police departments across the country were shaking off the “dirty cop” stigma.  But as he got closer to actually solving the crime, questioning elderly retired members of the force, he found himself more and more isolated, shut out by tight-lipped hostility, and made dramatically aware of the fraternal sin he had committed—breaking the blue code.
                Breaking Blue is a gripping story of cop against cop.  But it also describes a collision between two generations of lawmen and two very different moments in our nation’s history.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

The writing is boring, slow and sometimes repetitive. - Goodreads
Timothy Egan is an important Western writer. - Goodreads
There is an extremely unclear plot line. - Goodreads
The writing is not so compelling, but the story is. - Goodreads
Not a writer of Westerns, but a Western writer. - Goodreads

Review: Breaking Blue

User Review  - Don - Goodreads

Egan's account of sheriff in rural Washington state, working on his master's thesis, is the core of this non-fiction book. In 1988, Sheriff Tony Bamonte discovers an unsolved murder of a Marshal in ... Read full review

Review: Breaking Blue

User Review  - Amy Ouellette - Goodreads

Pretty interesting." I enjoyed the history aspect. It went on too long and by the end I wasn't very invested in the outcome. Read full review

All 15 reviews »


Cover Other Books by This Author
CopCode 4 Mothers Kitchen
TheNight Marshal
To the River
The Sheriff
AStirring 15 The
The Nurse
Men Without Badges
In BigSky Country 20 Retreat
Character Colors
The River
Last Gathering

Metaline Falls
A Family Visit
Men With Badges
Commencement AbouttheAuthor

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

Timothy Egan is the Pacific Northwest correspondent for The New York Times.  His last book, The Good Rain, was published in 1990.  He lives in Seattle with his wife, Joni Balter, and their two children.

Bibliographic information