NIGHTBIRD by Edward Dee

NIGHTBIRD

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The fourth case for NYPD detectives Joe Gregory and Anthony Ryan begins just like Lethal Weapon, with an actress taking a header from a high window, but all similarities to the live-action cartoon series end there. Ryan, still recovering from his son Rip’s death, could have sworn he heard Gillian Stone whisper “I love you” with her dying breath as her broken body lay on the roof of the Times Square Ark of Salvation van that ended her plunge from her Broadway Arms terrace. Did she fall, or was she pushed? Despite the absence of suspicious circumstances, the air is thick with accusations. Ryan’s nephew Danny Eumont, a reporter whose last byline for Manhattan magazine was an exposÇ of police violence—and who, as it turns out, was an ex-lover of Gillian’s who last saw her only a few hours before she died—blames her death on Broadway producer Trey Winters, who insisted she take a career-ending drug test before opening in the chorus of West Side Story. Winters insists that there was ample reason for the test, because Gillian was doing serious drugs. Gillian’s neighbor Stella Grasso tells Gregory and Ryan that Winters had been a constant all-hours visitor to the apartment he set Gillian up in. And Evan Stone, Gillian’s father in Arizona, completes the circle by decking Danny when he shows up for his daughter’s funeral. What none of them knows about is the blackmail demand a Mexican juggler named Victor Nu§ez is about to spring on Winters, and the explosive impact the payoff—modeled on the climactic scene from Victor’s favorite movie, The French Connection—will have on the case. The plotting is hit-or-miss, with too many leads that go nowhere or get tied off with indecent ease. What lingers, though, is Dee’s craft in shaping each episode—a series of interrogations becomes almost like a cycle of short stories—and the affection with which he treats his heroes’ private lives without ever bashing the system they’re fighting for.

Pub Date: Oct. 13th, 1999
ISBN: 0-446-52039-X
Page count: 304pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1999