Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Hugh Holton

Pub Date: Feb. 12th, 1997
ISBN: 0-312-86281-4
Publisher: Forge

 Holton must be getting more sleep. His fourth plunges into the murky waters of the Chicago police procedural is his least phantasmagoric, most cinematic book to date. The case begins quietly (though in fact the opening scene is the only quiet moment here) with the discovery of a dead soldier detailed to guard Astrolab Industries' arsenal of high-tech weaponry. Before you can say Rambo, an impressively armored assassin has used Astrolab's latest gear to blow up the Temple of Allah, stronghold of Minister Abdul Ali Malik, a.k.a. fence/pimp Slick Rick Johnson. The assault on Allah's emissary is only the first strike (if you don't count that army guard) in millionaire Steven Zalkin's plan to annihilate everyone who gave him a hard time during his last stretch in the Windy City 15 years ago. Since Zalkin (nÇ Martin Zykus), as Holton reveals in two chunky flashbacks, was a lowly busboy who left Chicago back then wanted for rape and aggravated assault and just having confessed to multiple homicides, that's quite a list of targets. There's Sister Mary Louise Stallings, the saintly rape victim who took holy orders instead of turning Zykus in. There's Commander Larry Cole (Chicago Blues, p. 336, etc.) and Sergeant Blackie Silvestri, the two officers who kept arresting Zykus and were forced to let him go by corrupt and incompetent superiors. There's Frank Delahanty, sozzled Times-Herald columnist who ridiculed Zykus, and who's now using his column to bait Zalkin, not even aware--as nobody else seems to notice either--that Zalkin is really Zykus. (Eerily, Zalkin is arrested once again in his present-day incarnation, and once again released by the dim- witted top brass.) Can Cole and his staunch colleagues take Zalkin as Zykus before Zalkin uses the last of his stolen armaments to reduce the Second District police station to a fine powder? Newcomers to Holton's supercharged procedurals will find this season's relatively sedate installment their best chance of hopping this runaway train.