Police corruption forms the backdrop for personal tragedy in this fiction debut, introduced in the prologue as a “mostly true” story.
Growing up in the ’70s, Steven Robert Holt wanted nothing more than to be a New York City cop, modeling himself on the uncle, Sergeant Robert Mulvey, who had taken the place of his alcoholic, abusive father as a role model from a young age. But by the time he attained his own sergeant’s stripes, Holt had already won a reputation that would mar his career. He was known as an honest cop, but also as a rat—the kind who squeals to the captain about a “Christmas list” of bribes offered to his precinct. While trying to do the right thing, Holt ended up hated by his colleagues. No wonder, then, that as the book opens in December, 1990, young Holt is on trial, framed for a triple homicide. Hynes (Incident at Howard Beach, 1989), a Brooklyn district attorney, draws heavily from the corruption scandals that plagued the NYPD from the ’60s through the ’80s. In interwoven stories, Hynes shows how both Mulvey and Holt are dragged down by their original intentions and by an institutionalized atmosphere rife with sloth, greed and raging self-protection.
A compelling morality tale occasionally bogged down by an excess of detail.