THE NEON SMILE by Dick Lochte


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 Exploitation TV has finally caught up with Tyrone Pano--the ``Panther Man'' of New Orleans civil rights who, 30 years ago, killed himself after being jailed for shooting Lillian Davis, his follower in the League for Black Advancement. Now, p.i. Terry Manion (Blue Bayou, 1992) has been hired by the producers of Crime Busters to reopen the case. An extended flashback to 1965 follows Manion's late mentor, J.J. Legendre, the officer who arrested Pano, as he tracks the gruesome serial killer (an aptly dubbed ``Meddler'') whose case crisscrosses Pano's in all sorts of disturbing ways; hears the report of Pano's convenient suicide in his cell; and moves toward a dramatic shootout with the Meddler that will put paid to everybody's doubts but his own. Then it's back to the present for a dizzying check with the surviving cast--J.J.'s girlfriend, damsel-in-distress turned star prosecutor; his partner, now dying of AIDS; a League thug raking in the dollars on the evangelical circuit--before Manion closes the case again for good. Lochte is no James Sallis, but he knows how to pile on the old New Orleans smoke, shadows, crumbling houses, subplots, grotesque walk-ons, and rodents. Serve with an Alka-Seltzer chaser.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-671-74712-6
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1995


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