As a novelist, my goal in the Howard Drew series is to make characters realistic by anchoring them in as real a world as is possible. People enter a story looking for somebody to identity with. That person has to seem real and believable. Their world has to seem as real as the one we are in. I try to make that connection by surrounding Detective Howard Drew and my other characters in the series with the actual world. As I write about Los Angeles, I use actual streets, actual restaurants, sometimes even real people in the landscapes of my stories. My aim is to make the line between fact and fiction as invisible as possible.
b: May 12, 1986 at Kaiser Hospital, Los Angeles, CA
Detective Howard “Howie” Drew is a fictional character created by American crime fiction author Larry Darter. Drew debuted as the lead character in the 2020 novel Omerta, the first in a new police procedural series now numbering 2 novels with two others in development.
The novels are more or less coincident in time frame with the year in which they are published. Howie, as Drew is commonly known by his associates, is a police homicide detective with the Los Angeles Police Department.
Biography of the character
Drew’s parents are long since separated but not divorced. His seventeen-year-old sister, Katherine “Katie” Drew, was a raped and murdered in 2001 while the rest of the family was away from their Cheviot Hills home, when Drew was 15 years old. The marriage of his grief-stricken parents collapsed as a result. Drew’s His father, Frank Drew, a CPA, became an alcoholic and disappeared two years after the death of his daughter. His mother, Meredith, raised Drew as a single-mother until he graduated from high school in 2004 and enlisted in the U.S. Army.
Drew spent his youth attending private Catholic schools and graduated from St. Monica Catholic High School, where he played varsity football and baseball. Drew learned of his sister’s murder when he arrived home from school and found the police at his home notifying his mother. His father, Frank, was out of town on business at the time.
With the images of the 9/11 terrorist attack still fresh on his mind, Drew joined the United States Army at age 18, four months after graduating high school. He served two grueling tours in Iraq during Operation Enduring Freedom, as a member of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. During his second tour, while assigned as an infantry company squad leader, Drew was wounded in an IED explosion. While his shrapnel injuries were not life threatening, they turned septic, and he spent time at the military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, recovering from his physical wounds. Since his discharge from the U.S. Army in 2008, Drew continued to suffer moderate-to-severe symptoms of PTSD, including recurring nightmares, bouts of insomnia, and anger management issues. During his time in the military, Drew became estranged from his mother after she formed a relationship with a man named David Johnson and moved with Johnson from Los Angeles to Phoenix, Arizona.
After his return from Iraq and an honorable discharge from the Army, Drew attended UCLA on the G.I. Bill, following in his father’s footsteps by majoring in accounting. But after finishing his junior year, Drew accepted he had no interest in working as an accountant. He saw a LAPD recruitment flyer and dropped out of college to join to LAPD in 2011. He finished his bachelor’s degree by attending college part-time while working for the police department.
While at the LAPD, Drew rose to the rank of Detective I after five years as a patrol officer at Hollenbeck. His first assignment as a detective was the burglary/theft detail at Hollenbeck. After three years, Drew rose to the rank of Detective II. He was assigned to the West Bureau homicide detail, realizing the goal he had established for himself in his early at the police academy to become a homicide investigator. Drew worked at West Bureau during the time between Omerta and the end of the second novel, The Pendulum. Near the end of the second novel, Drew was involved in a fatal officer involved shooting (OIS) of a murder suspect. The encounter with the suspect occurred in part because Drew had disregarded department policies. While they exonerated him for the OIS, his superiors placed him on a 30-day disciplinary suspension for the policy violations. When his captain balked at taking Drew back at West Bureau at the end of his suspension, the recently hired chief of police, recognizing Drew’s talent as a homicide investigator, gave him a chance to start over with a clean slate by assigning Drew to the Robbery-Homicide Division’s Open-Unsolved Unit, the department’s cold case squad. Drew remains at Open-Unsolved during the third novel, Darker Angels. At the start of the fourth novel, LA Deadly, Drew and his partner Amy Li are temporarily reassigned from Open-Unsolved to the prestigious Homicide Special Section to investigate the murder of the wife of a celebrity Hollywood actor.
During his time in the LAPD as covered in the novels, Drew’s partners include his first partner, and mentor at West Bureau, Rudy Ortega, who retires at the end of the first novel, Cecelia “Cici” Ruiz (at West Bureau), and Amy Li (his longest-serving partner) when Drew joined the Open-Unsolved Unit. Drew is partnered with Li from the end of The Pendulum through LA Deadly.
During the first four novels, Drew lives in an apartment on North Wilcox Avenue in Hollywood, close to the LAPD Hollywood Community Station.
Drew has an active love life, with about one love interest per book. His first relationship was with Lucy Tomlinson, a West LA patrol officer he met on a call. The relationship ends when Lucy applies to the ATF, gets hired, and moves away from Los Angeles (Darker Angeles). He then meets and forms a romantic relationship with FBI Special Agent Lindsay Fisher (Darker Angels).
Drew is right-handed. He stands two inches short of six feet and is on the lean side because he was a dedicated long-distance runner. He has brown hair he wears in the high and tight military variant of the crew cut, with the back and sides of his head shaved to the skin and the top blended or faded into slightly longer hair, and brown eyes (Omerta).
Drew often finds himself in conflict with authority, both with his superiors and with departmental policies when he believes they are barriers to carrying out what he considers his life’s mission, speaking for the dead by getting justice for homicide victims. I attribute his confrontational style to his strong sense of duty and low tolerance for frustration. As a homicide investigator, Drew is relentless in the pursuit of justice and believes “every victim counts.”
Drew is a fan of country music which he learned to appreciate during his time in Iraq when that was all his buddies played. He came to view it as the music that best reflects actual life.