A fictional version of Miami Herald crime-reporter Buchanan's memoirs (Never Let Them See You Cry; The Corpse Had a Familiar Face)--i.e., a tale (reporter investigates suspicious death) surging with sentiment and crackling action, and far more appealing than the author's debut novel, Nobody Lives Forever (1990). Buchanan's alter ego here is Cuban-American Miami Daily News staffer Britt Montero, who seems poised for a series run with all the proper paraphernalia--feisty personality, fractured love life, intriguing sidekick (a photographer gal-pal), irritating boss. The sleek, first-person narrative centers on Montero's digging into the death of ex-football star D. Wayne Hudson, black, who, fleeing from police, allegedly smashed his car and died of his injuries while hospitalized. As Montero talks with the cops who pursued Hudson, a disturbing pattern emerges: All Anglo or Hispanic, with few exceptions, they are violent misfits exiled onto the wild midnight shift--a shift that Montero explores in the company of a homicide cop who soon shares her bed. Meanwhile, back at the office, crank callers (including Montero's mom) and a harebrained scheme to set a young reporter adrift in simulation of Haitian refugees add some edgy comic relief. Soon, though, the action turns downright nasty as Montero comes up with evidence that gets the midnight cops indicted--and then further evidence pointing to a coldblooded murderer wearing the blue. The ensuing trial and verdict lead to a Rodney King-style riot that flames across Miami and to the melodramatic but intensely exciting closing pages, which see Montero running from crazed mobs even as she's stalked by the killer. Formulaic, but Montero's a charmer and her story seethes with the street-life that her creator knows so well.