To research this stiff nuts-and-bolts police procedural, first-novelist Count, a journalist (New York Magazine, etc.), spent a year with Manhattan's real-life Hundred Percent Squad, which annually solves one homicide for each committed within its precinct borders. A brief 1972 prologue sets up a lifelong rivalry between then-plainclothes cop Andy Flynn and up-and-coming drug-dealer Irish Viera; then it's on to late 1985, when the Dragnet, dry action takes place in scores of short chapters headlined ""Monday night, November 4, 1985,"" and so on. Flynn is now detective lieutenant, head of the Hundred Percent Squad, gunning for its third perfect year; Viera is north Gotham's top dealer, specializing in cocaine but checking out its newborn mutant sister, crack. As the narrative metronomically ticks on, several murders--a 1982 rooftop slaying, the gory execution of two coke dealers, the drug-related shooting of a local candy-store owner, a savage sex-mutilation killing--occupy Flynn and his band; but the lieutenant's paramount aims are finally to nab Viera and, despite interference from jealous brass, to keep the squad's record intact--goals furthered when one of Viera's young sidekicks, Salsa, takes a shine to Flynn and begins to stoolie for him. But despite Flynn's affection for Salsa, and the boxing lessons he gives the apprentice drug-dealer as an out from his crooked life, Salsa can't escape Viera's bloody web. When the drug kingpin orders the boy's death, shortly after serving up the slashing of Flynn's classy new girlfriend, the cop finally straps on his guns for an expected, predictable, and anticlimactic showdown. Authentically detailed, but akin to--and about as involving as--listening to a police band radio.