A gang-murder case in the South Bronx--featuring the promising debut of lawyer/sleuth Carlito Rivera. After a fight between Puerto Rican and Dominican youths outside a disco, Mafia errand-boy Pablo Alvarado (a Rican) is found shot dead; nearby, stab-wounded, is Ricky Betancourt, a fellow Rican who's accused of the murder. But Ricky, despite some juvenile offenses, is a basically good kid, especially now that he's engaged to sweet Eloida, daughter of classy nurse Maria Fuentes. So Maria persuades her lover Carlito to represent the obviously innocent Ricky--who seems to have been framed (by a Mafia-corrupt cop). While Carlito builds his defense case, Maria flies to Puerto Rico to find fugitive key-witness Angel Colon, Ricky's best pal--but Angel, an epileptic, dies before he can Tell All. And, back in N.Y., the trial begins--and quickly ends when a good cop exposes the frame-up. (The final murder solution, however, comes--rather clumsily--from a surprise-witness priest.) Despite pedestrian plotting and uncertain pacing: a decent, unpretentious first mystery, gritty yet sentimental--with authentic cop/court details, solid Bronx atmosphere, and an engaging character in warm, smart, imperfect Maria.