Again, as in Night Cover (1976), Lewin's usual Indianapolis sleuth--endearing shamus Albert Samson--makes only a guest...

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HARD LINE

Again, as in Night Cover (1976), Lewin's usual Indianapolis sleuth--endearing shamus Albert Samson--makes only a guest appearance here . . . while the main focus shifts to a hero who's anything but endearing: Lieut. Leroy Powder, now heading (very reluctantly) the Police Dept.'s understaffed Missing Persons Bureau. Among the overlapping cases on Powder's overworked agenda: a woman who tries to kill herself, fakes amnesia, and mutilates her own face--in a desperate attempt to escape her past; a husband who's suspiciously blasÉ about his missing wife (Powder does a heavy Columbo act, sure that there's a buried body somewhere); and a young newcomer to town who disappears from the bus station. But, despite all this fairly zesty plotting, Lewin puts equal emphasis on the noisy inter-personal action over at Missing Persons: Powder suspects his own wayward kid of being into something crooked (should father turn in son?); there are nasty frictions with other departments; and, above all, there's Powder's abrasive, abusive, but eventually loving treatment of his new sergeant--a woman-cop confined to a wheelchair after getting shot in the heroic line of duty. True, some readers will certainly find Powder a bit much--especially when it comes to the outrageously cruel (supposedly therapeutic) wheelchair jokes. But those who like their repartee rough and their cop-shows gritty will find this a nonstop winner: fast, mean (if secretly sentimental), expertly cross-plotted, and viciously funny.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 1982

ISBN: 0881503460

Page Count: -

Publisher: Morrow

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1982