A dirty ragbag of highlights--mostly lowlights--from five years (1970-75) in the lives of Bronx Asst. D.A. Alcibiades LoConti and his hard-drinking buddies on the Narcotics and Homicide Squads. In the wake of surging criminal activity and a justice system so sievelike that felonies are routinely plea-bargained to misdemeanors and murderers tried for manslaughter, obsessively dedicated Al--together with his cop friends Pete DiCerrechia, Bill Wotter, Rory O'Donnell, and Al's cousin Allie Boy Spano--sweat to make arrests and prepare convictions despite crooked higher-ups, cynical lawyers, corrupt judges, and their own incompetent colleagues (like Bill Solwin, whose red-hot chili almost blows a narcotics sting when he goes undercover as a cook, and Richie Zemberelli, who taunts the killer holding a pistol to his forehead with the news that he's wearing a bulletproof vest). Of Al's innumerable and sometimes interminable cases--pursued at the usual obligatory cost to his family life--four stand out: the longstanding attempt to turn sellers into informants against the big boys; the mystery of the dead woman whose severed legs are discovered at a golf course; the pursuit of serial killer Ronald DePew; and the investigation of a shooting whose prime suspect is a rookie cop. Life and the law in the Bronx have never looked smarmier than in attorney Altman's first novel; you turn the last page with a feeling of gratitude and relief, as if emerging from five years in a sewer.