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Detective: The Inspirational Story of the Trailblazing Woman Cop Who Wouldn't Quit
Kathy Burke  More Info


By Neal Hirschfeld


Kathy Burke was already New York City police legend. Then she went beyond the call of duty with a groundbreaking support group for injured officers.


When Kathy Burke talks about losing a fellow officer, it is not simply as a professionally trained counselor, but also as a cop who has been there. Sixteen years ago, she was shot through the chest, and while she lay bleeding on the sidewalk, she saw her partner murdered at point-blank range.

Publisher’s Weekly said of Detective: The Inspirational Story of the Trailblazing Woman Cop Who Wouldn't Quit, “In her fast-paced "as-told-to" autobiography, former NYPD detective Burke offers an insider's view of the life of a female undercover drug cop working in a field in which women were rarely treated as equals. Burke applied to become an officer in 1968 and soon found her niche working under cover. Adopting the persona of the "jive-talking" Marie Martin, Burke realized that, despite her by-the-books morality, she was adept at blending in with dealers and crooks. Beginning like an action film—Burke in an alley with a gun to her head—the book recounts stories of undercover drug buys and tough-talking police station politics. The narrative works its way up to Burke's involvement in a controversial 1986 shooting that left her irreparably injured and her partner dead outside a Queens diner. After three bungled trials, the U.S. Court of Appeals threw out the murder and attempted murder charges, leaving the mobsters Burke accused of pulling the trigger with short sentences for lesser crimes. While readers may be frustrated by lackluster prose and a lack of answers to questions about the trial, Burke's book, which is packed with action and suspense, tells an inspiring story of a woman who beat the odds more than once.”

One reader of Detective: The Inspirational Story of the Trailblazing Woman Cop Who Wouldn't Quit said, “This is a straight forward, kick you in the balls book of what it is like to be a woman cop.  The book concludes with a revelation of the two NYC rogue cops, Eppolito and Caracappa, who sold their souls to the Mafia and thus affected so many people's lives with their corrupt actions. This officer, Kathy Burke, was adversely affected in lifelong horrible way. There's a great deal of undercover stories detailed here, sexual harassment, love between cops--both plutonic and sexual. Officer Burke describes so much, including receiving the medal of Honor from Mayor Koch. But in the end, she concludes, she has her self esteem and dignity. For the reader, its those two good for nothing turncoat cops that betrayed all that was good around them.”

A Feisty Trailblazer, and Further Recollections of a Tragic Anniversary



New York Times

September 3, 2006


She was the smallest cop — barely 5 feet 2 and 95 pounds — when she joined the New York City Police Department, but Kathy Burke left a big impression. And the murder of her partner two decades ago outside a Queens diner still reverberates in today’s headlines about the Mafia’s infiltration of the police force

In 1968, 1 percent of the New York Police Department was female. When Kathy Burke joined the NYPD's ranks in June of that year she was one of only ten women in a class of 950 recruits. But the determined Burke had no doubt that she was born to be a cop, and in her twenty-three-year career she rose to be the most highly decorated female detective in the NYPD's history. “Detective: The Inspirational Story of the Trailblazing Woman Cop Who Wouldn't Quit” is her story.


 By turns caustic, funny, and matter-of-fact, Kathy Burke describes what it was like for a young woman to be surrounded by often hostile male officers and the uphill battle she fought to prove herself and earn their respect. But earn it she did. From her beginnings as an undercover cop making drug buys on New York's most dangerous streets to posing as Mrs. Patz to capture extortionists in the Etan Patz case to investigating the Mafia, Burke worked in some of the NYPD's most elite units on its most high-profile cases, eventually rising to the rank of detective first grade, the very highest in the detective bureau.


From the History of the New York Police Department

Mayor Lawrence, in his message, July 6, 1836, adverted to the necessity and importance of an efficient and well-regulated Police. The elements of the present system of Police, he said, he believed to be good, and that the character of the Magistrates connected with the department was a warrant for the faithful discharge of their duties. The principal point, therefore, he said to which he desired to direct the attention of the Common Council, was the necessity of a very considerable increase in the number of the Watch. No right, he maintained, could be dearer to the citizen than to be protected in his person and property, and secured against dangerous disruptions of the public peace.


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