A police uniform is the perfect cover in this taut, highly polished procedural, novelized from St. George's experiences in New York City as an undercover investigator for the NY State special prosecutor's office. St. George and TV writer Chase deftly intertwine three distinct cases. In one, Special Investigator Tina Paris goes after a street cop named Eddie Calvert, who, according to a witness, has a stake in a Bushwick, Brooklyn, card game and no qualms about roughing up those who'd prefer to place their bets elsewhere. Calvert goes too far one night and shoots to death a card player who won too much of his money. The body is reportedly locked in a freezer in the club's basement, but that's not what the police find there. In another case, Paris goes undercover as ``Julia Cipriani, aspiring Mafia moll''—in a slinky black number and spike heels—at a fundraiser for Assemblyman Neil Dandrell, who, along with his father, a state supreme court judge, is suspected of having syndicate connections. Paris lets herself get picked up by Al Randazzo, one of the hosts. Al and his cousins Sonny and Gus ``owned a couple of clubs out on the Island known for lively music'' and a highly suspect clientele. The third case involves a sadistic rapist who plays Russian roulette with his victims, pulling the trigger at climax. The New York press has a field day with one of the surviving women—``PRETTY BOY RAPIST FIRES BLANKS''—but a SoHo shop clerk isn't as fortunate. When the rapist starts faxing messages to the public relations department at One Police Plaza, a detective notices something vaguely familiar about the writer's phrasing and descriptive style. Disturbing realism and suspenseful, smooth writing make this a top-flight thriller.
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