Twelve cases from the files of Albert Seedman, recently retired Chief of the Detective Bureau of the New York City Police -- and what cases! Among the deadly dozen: the matter of Kitty Genovese, the ""assassination"" of Joe Colombo, the Weathermen Greenwich Village town house bombing, the great Mays Department Store Swindle, plots by the Jewish Defense League and sniper attacks by the Black Liberation Army. Hellman, who describes Seedman's sartorial impact as ""standing out"" -- he was fond of cuffs embroidered with ""Al"" in red, and two dazzling rings -- tells it straight, which works well here. The reports on the crimes include not only details of action, detection and follow-through, but also biographies of victim and ""perpetrator,"" excerpts from court proceedings and some eye-opening anecdotes on station house life. There are understated scenes of horror -- the Genovese murder and the grisly finds at the town house excavation site -- and some nifty, uncanny detection. Al was briefly bounced during the Knapp investigation for accepting a free meal or two from the Hilton Hotel (honi soit qui mal y pense), but saner heads prevailed while others rolled. Riveting crime annals -- something quite special.