THE EL MURDERS by Bill Granger

THE EL MURDERS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Granger, author (under the Bill Griffith byline) of Time for Frankie Coolin, a little masterpiece of sociological character-fiction, seems uncomfortable within the bounds of the police-procedural genre: this gritty addition to his Chicago-cop series (Public' Murders, etc.) sizzles with disturbing reportage and intriguing moral dilemmas--but it's neither a satisfyingly crafted thriller nor a fully developed novel of character. Terry Flynn, veteran homicide cop (recently demoted), manages to catch some killers for a change: he brings in two of the street-punks responsible for the senseless subway murder of a young homosexual stockbroker. Soon, however, Flynn finds that his efforts are doomed--because virtually all his colleagues are more hostile to the ""fag"" victim (and his lover, the key witness) than the criminals. Furthermore, an ambitious D.A. wants to exploit the situation to advance an investigation into drug-dealing on the stock exchange. (""White-collar crime. . .It's a growth industry."") So Flynn watches as the innocent witness in the case is harassed, endangered. . .and driven to murder in self-defense. Meanwhile, Flynn's longtime love Karen Kovac, a Special Squad cop, also gets entangled in an ugly, hopeless case: the rape of college girl Mary Jane Caldwell--an unstable woman (and impossible witness) who is totally unhinged by the rape and its bureaucratic aftermath, turning into a female Charles Bronson. Granger uses the two cases (which are too neatly parallel) to dramatize the everyday horrors of the criminal justice system--and the near-breakup of the Flynn/Kovac romance as their ways of dealing with the system (idealistic rebellion vs. pragmatism) clash. It's an overambitious scenario for a genre-sized novel, resulting in a disjointed plot and overstated confrontations. But the scene-by-scene strengths here--convincingly foul cop-talk--are vivid and substantial.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1987
Publisher: Henry Holt