More crime and corruption among New York's finest, courtesy of ""paper cop"" Det. Anthony Ryan and his wild and crazy partner, Det. Joe Gregory (14 Peck Slip, 1994). The case opens with a typically arresting image: A BMW rolls to a stop opposite a modern miracle--an image of the Virgin formed by icicles on a Bronx seawall. Inside is off-duty cop Marc Ross, his throat slashed, presumably by the prostitute seen running from the car. When two of druglord Tito Santana's soldiers are found beaten to death in Crotona Park, suspicion for the supposed sex killing falls on Santana, whose operation had been under heavy pressure from Ross's squad. Ryan and Gregory go through the motions of tracing the button found in Ross's mouth to a transvestite costumer--a subplot that plunges them into a twilit world of half-crooks and half-cops--and finally to a woman (if it is a woman) who barely escapes from them back in the Bronx. Meanwhile, a third beating victim seems to put Santana on the spot. But Ryan is convinced, even before Ross's partner Paul Verdi turns up dead in an equally lurid scene, that Ross's other partner, Sonny Guidice, is the key to the case. Ryan knows there's something irrational about his obsession with Guidice, whom he's never forgiven for shooting a seven-year-old kid on a domestic disturbance call with Ryan 25 years ago. And he's getting signals from his wife that he's in over his head again; he'll never make it to their daughter's wedding in Delaware; etc., etc. But Ryan's certainty pays off when a young officer's anguished confession makes Ryan decide to play ball with the boys at Internal Affairs. And that's when the real (and unexpected) fireworks start. Dee takes no prisoners: His writing is lean, fragrant, and brutally authoritative. The result is all the richly reeking background of Robert Daley and William Caunitz's cops without the high fat content of their NYPD epics.