Vigilante-style cops vs. Los Angeles gang-warriors--in a crude, predictable melodrama that lacks the twisty intensity of Petievich's best previous work (Shakedown, To Live and Die in L.A.). The L.A.P.D., frustrated by escalating gang murders, sets up a new, specialized fourman unit called ""CRASH"" (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums)to apprehend street-gang assassins. And, sure enough, Det. Sgt. Jose Stepanovich and his men--one sensitive rookie, one boastful sex-maniac, one cynical veteran--soon get a positive i.d. on a teen-killer. But there's not enough hard evidence for the D.A. to prosecute the case. So the CRASH cops start taking matters into their own hands, with winking approval from above. They kill two ""gangbangers"" in a stakeout that doesn't go by the book; then, when the gang takes murderous vengeance, the CRASH team sets a trap that leads to an even bloodier shoot-out. Eventually, however, the CRASH guys' Charles Bronson-ish tactics get them into trouble with the P.R.-sensitive L.A.P.D.--and the overzealous cops are betrayed at a public hearing by their superiors. Unlike Wambaugh, Robert Daley, and other top-notch police-in-the-raw writers, Petievich fails to make his trigger-happy, often-adolescent heroes sympathetic or compelling: ambivalent Stepanovich is a bland amalgam of Wambaughian attributes (divorced loner, workaholic, etc.), pursuing a clichâ€šd, star-crossed romance, la West Side Story, with a Hispanic nurse. The dialogue, despite gross-out profanity, remains stilted: dollops of graphic sex are equally ineffectual. So this is only for undemanding consumers of down-and-dirty police action--and not for the more discriminating Shakedown readership.