BREAK AND ENTER by Colin Harrison


Email this review


Harrison's first novel is not shy about its ambition to combine a murder mystery à la Scott Turow's Presumed Innocent with a love-and-adultery shocker like Fatal Attraction, but where both these progenitors delivered an undeniable electric charge, this just sputters and fizzles. Assistant D.A. Peter Scattergood is handed the prosecution of a politically dangerous case just as his marriage unravels. The bright nephew of the black mayor of Philadelphia has been murdered along with his girlfriend. A suspect is in custody, and the pressure is on Scattergood to make a quick and airtight case, but he's a wreck over his wife, Janice, a counselor of abused women at a shelter. Herself a product of sexual abuse as a child, Janice has left Scattergood because he won't let her have a baby. Now she won't even tell him where she lives. Harried and distracted, Scattergood embarks on two investigations: finding out who the murderer really is (we all know there's a cover-up), and finding Janice. He also allows a sexually dominant investment banker, Cassandra, to fill his life with nasty bedroom games. Meanwhile, Harrison gives Scattergood far too many speeches and monologues--about radical feminists (with hairy armpits, of course); male and female workaholics who replace intimacy with racquetball and sex; the corruption of Philadelphia; and black-white tensions in ""The City of Brotherly Love."" After each of these sessions of invective and bile, the author gently hands the reader the proper politically correct antacid. Harrison is not untalented, however; in fact, there are enough hot streaks to keep the book galloping along. But what are we to make of a mystery solved simply because the murderer walks into the prosecutor's office and confesses? None of the confrontations is resolved--Scattergood temporizes and just runs away. In the end, the only way the author can sort this one out is with an epilogue. Like a literary Dr. Frankenstein, Harrison grafts together a batch of promising parts and hopes a bolt of lightning will jolt his creation to life.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1990
ISBN: 0312427603
Publisher: Crown