Where Izzi's Prowlers (1991) was operatic in its emotional intensity, his newest crime thriller is more soap operatic--a relentlessly grim farce about mobsters, madmen, and the family ties that bind. That Izzi is off his usual stride is apparent right from the strained start, seemingly grafted from a pulp psychothriller, that finds Edna Rose, a victim of parental sexual abuse now grown into an obese bag-lady with bucks, fantasizing about the day she'll confront her hero--fast-rising TV-star Babe Hill--and seduce him. But Edna's showdown with Babe lies many pages away, and before it Izzi tracks two others whose ``tribal secrets'' are shredding their lives. The more peripheral is sleazy Jerome Spinell, whose first appearance sees him nearly thrown from the 45th floor of an L.A. hotel by henchmen of his brother Milo, a Chicago godfather. Milo's beef is that he invested, on producer Jerome's advice, $1.5 million in Babe's TV-pilot Street Babe, which scored record ratings--and now Babe is telling the Spinells to take a hike. For Babe's struggle with his own family--the bleeding heart of the novel- -reveals his hatred of mobsters and hinges on childhood savageries inflicted on him by his mobster-dad, Johnny Hilliard, and mom. The two family melodramas connect when Milo, by threatening to kill Johnny, tries to blackmail Babe into signing for a TV series; and crazy Edna joins the fray when she throws herself at Babe just when one of Babe's brothers, a scene-stealing psychopath, decides to kidnap his star-sibling for ransom. But here comes Babe's soul- tribe--wife Kelly and cop/best-pal Tim--riding to the rescue.... Izzi's poignancies and many sharp vignettes of the criminal life are overwhelmed by his contrived plot and his self-absorbed hero: Here's a thriller that aims to tackle important issues but winds up, despite moments of real power, being mostly self- important.