Cuomo has contributed more acute and livelier novels than this Manhattan based mystery/ social commentary which does, however, begin with a bang--an exploded bomb in a barber shop where retired Jerome is settling down for a trim. Later Jerome, miraculously intact, inexplicably bumbles into the nest of suspects. They are Poitier-perfect Sylvester, who dots his pronouncements with ""Man"" and ""Lady"" and who will be killed by white cops in the poor people's dental clinic he inaugurated; a beautiful artsy young woman (""My parents insisted I do the Smith thing first""); a self-made tycoon who owns the clinic building and whose black maid wears transparent blouses; a liberal politico, and an ex-con. The characters are lightly frisked for motivation (they are not sturdy enough for closer scrutiny), and it all adds up, after the mad bomber is found, to a certain melancholy reflection that two black men--one likable, the other dangerous--can be so easily killed and dismissed. A worthy point, barely surfacing above a routine exercise.