Please be aware: This page WILL contain spoilers.
33 years old in book one, Michael is the central focus of the series. Although he aspired to be a chef, Michael eventually began working in an ad agency before work place drama forced him out. Michael took up work as a police officer which helped him reconcile some mistakes from his past and he excelled in the career.
Michael loves love and is often found spending time with women in each books. He craves commitment, being raised in a nuclear family, and is often teased by his brother about his deep desire. Michael is a provider and has deep pockets thanks to early investing, life insurance payouts and fastidious saving.
Michael is confident and his closed case rate gives him reason to be. He is also short-tempered, slightly impatient, and off putting to some of his co-workers. On the other hand, he is respected for his skills, women find him attractive and he is determined to see justice for his victims.
Although he is featured in book one, Alexander better known as Alex isn’t fully introduced until book two and is 27 years old at the time. Passing his detective exams with flying colors, he set a department record for age in comparison to score, and becomes Michael’s partner at the same time they receive the murder case of Jermain Gooding.
Alex is committed to his girlfriend Chloe Banks and they live together. Their home is in Emeryville CA, close to the Berkeley/Oakland border. He has a cheerful personality, loves attention and knows tons of people in the PD. His work with Michael is supposed to be a long term learning experience, but it’s more like a crash course. Alex is determined to do his best and become his own example of an excellent detective.
Although he is smaller in stature, Maxwell better known as Max, is Michael’s older brother by two years. Starting at a young age, Max developed some criminal habits and spent time in prison before seeking a career in hotel management.
He and Michael are best friends and they often spend time together, typically over a meal, discussing life. Max, a full time womanizer, shares crazy stories about his dating escapades, while also reprimanding Michael for being too serious about relationships. Max is well liked by people who know Michael despite the brothers vast differences.
Max plays a life altering role for Michael from book one until the end of the series.
25 years old in book one, Vanessa is a shapely stripper working her way through college. At AJ’s Space Club she meets Michael and is instantly attracted to him. Throughout book one, they are inseparable but a conflict among the couple leads to danger for Vanessa. Leaning on her psychology education helps her survive, and Michael backs her up with his determination.
By book two, Vanessa’s role in Michael’s life has changed and her behavior isn’t just affecting him.
Showing up for the first time in book two, Azlynn Matthews is a spunky 30 year old officer with OPD. She is confined to the evidence room where she protects the items in her charge fastidiously. Azlynn is super social and naturally beautiful. She keeps a long line of officers at the window to her basement room, gossiping or flirting with her at random.
By chance, she meets Michael and Alex when a locked safe from Jermain Gooding’s case is brought from the forensics lab to her room. Once they are introduced, she attaches to the men right away. She and Alex become fast besties, happy to chat and share info about their fellow officers, while she and Michael develop a different kind of relationship, created by her rather forward reaction to the handsome detective.
Azlynn is a widow, having lost her husband in the line of duty. This fact keeps her from settling down, especially with another officer. This fact does not however, keep her from enjoying time with Michael. As things progress, Azlynn joins forces with the men and becomes an asset to each of their lives in her own special way.
Introduced in book two, Chloe Banks is 24 years old and very accomplished. The plus sized beauty is a businesses owner working in the digital arts field with major contracts all over the Bay Area. She is also Alex’s long term partner and the cornerstone of his life and well being. When he is beat down by his demanding job, she is always there to support him.
Lt. Bruce Vega
Arriving in the prequel to the series, Lt. Bruce Vega is a hispanic man and the fearless leader of the Oakland PD’s homicide department. He is bossy, pushy and a dominant leader. Although things started decent enough, over time, Vega and Michael’s relationship crumbles when Michael’s rebellious spirit clashes with his managers demands. The older man is a former boxer in great shape and intimidating in the work place, but of course, no one scares Michael.
Vega is married with many children and feels a lot of pressure to provide for them. Over time, his families needs outgrow his pay scale and choices have to be made. Vega plays a pivotal role in Michael’s career, and not just because he is his superivsor.
Dr. Caleb North
Dashing and brilliant, Dr. North is the M.E. for Alameda County. He has Hollywood good looks but is incredibly introverted and serious about his work. Although the two brash men seem they should never get along, Michael and Dr. North have an excellent working relationship and Dr. North can even quantify Michael’s behavior better than others who think they know the detective well.
Dr. North is a pillar of stability to Michael and those who work at the PD, but he is also stretched thin as one of the only examining doctors, which is part of the reason he is constantly agitated. It is also part of the reason that he had to hire an assistant.
Dr. Tillie Alvez (North)
Tillie Alvez is introduced in book 2 as Dr. North’s assistant. She has a big, bright personality, is always smiling and is the most kind woman Dr. North had ever met. She came to the Bay Area from Florence, Arizona, looking for a less bureaucratic way of working and fell in love with the crew from Oakland PD, including Michael and Alex, but more specifically, Dr. North.
By book 3, Tillie and Dr. North are as close as two co-workers can be and become engaged. By book 4 Tillie earns her PhD, thus becoming Dr. Tillie North.
Michael’s Team: Detectives Emmanuel Bryant, Gregory Crews, Victoria Alsterlind and Aarav Sharma
In book 4, Michael is promoted to sergeant and assigned a team of detectives to supervise. These detectives include newbies and veterans of the force and bring their own spice to the group.
Emmanuel Bryant spent five years in Vice, investigating prostitution, illegal gambling, and the illegal sale of guns, alcohol, and drugs. The skilled investigator is asked to join homicide by three months before Michael was promoted.
Gregory Crews has worked as a homicide detective for over twenty-five years. Often recounting tales of woe he experienced through out his career: losing his wife for his work, never having a vacation, over worked and under appreciated, when a new lieutenant took over the detective floor, a positive change was noted in the senior detectives attitude.
Victoria Alsterlind joined the force eight years before Michael was promoted and boasts an arrest record that could compete with his. Although she is passive and docile, her smarts and support for her team make her an incredible asset.
Lastly, Aarav Sharma is a cool, composed and very talented detective. His interview skills are talked about all over the department. With six years in Oakland, he’d transferred from Concord PD and for the last two years been partnered with Alsterlind in Oakland.
Juan, introduced in the prequel, is the lead CSI tech and a good work friend of Michael’s. He is loud, jovial and loves to joke, even near a dead body. The technician is present in every book and brings levity to the often tense crime scenes that Michael commands.
Lab technician Gabriel Walsh is introduced in book 1 and is in a love-hate relationship with Michael. Due to poor staffing in his lab, the tech often works alone and for many hours, but Michael still makes life hard for him. Gabriel loves rock and roll and fun facts and despite the pressure of his job, he keeps a good attitude and rolls with the punches.
On a personal note, starting in book 4, Gabriel begins dating Trish from accounting, making him a very happy man. She is mostly just a mention throughout the series but in book 5 Trish finally makes an appearance to help Michael with a case.
DA Raymond Cabrera
DA Cabrera is mentioned in the prequel to the series but is formally introduced in book 1. His job is to prosecute cases based on the detectives hard work. Unfortunately, he is not upstanding in anyway. He is a good looking man but also the epitome of a womanizer. He often uses his power in the PD to get hooked up with women in his office. Although the men were never the best of friends, Cabrera’s flirtatious tendencies certainly made him Michael’s enemy and even more so after Michael meets Azlynn.
Despite their conflicts, Michael and Cabrera often work together to prepare cases trial and together the men clear many cases.