A slice-of-five-lives--all of which converge in a Queens courthouse--features: inept, small-time crook Manuel Torres, who's planning an escape; the lawyer assigned to Torres--Elena Alvarez, who's still quaking with guilt over the prison-death of former client Ed Winters; cancer-stricken retired teacher Charles Allison, who's about to be empaneled on the Torres jury; courthouse guard John King, who's close to a homicidal breakdown; and elevator- operator Hobie Morgan, who's the imminent hero here. As Alvarez wrestles with her conscience about getting Torres off, Torres's dad slips him a razor, and he's soon lining up his hostages. Meanwhile, there's further carnage in the corridors as the guard goes on a rampage, dragging the others along for a bloody, horrific finale. Earnest but predictable debut novel, with at least one too many soul-searching inner debates from Alvarez and Allison. Not deep enough for the psychological crowd, but may find its niche among the nitty-gritty police-procedural readers.