Boy meets girl, boy sleeps with girl, girl's husband gets shot, etc.
Kelly (Mad Dog, 1992, etc.) knows you've heard this story before, so he does his best to dress it up. His feckless hero, Ray Dolan, is a cop whose upstate New York community thinks of him as a downright heroic straight-arrow. He knows how much stress their grinding diet of crime puts on his fellow officers, but he's got enough backbone to turn away from them if they cross the line into violence. When his romance with an attractive newscaster doesn't take off, he bows out gracefully, leaving them still friends. Local higher-ups start to make political overtures to him. In short, Ray is a model lead—except for his fatal attraction to his new neighbor Sheila Travis, whose insurance-salesman husband Lance is such a miserable human being (a cocky drug-user who snorts coke under Ray's eyes, an abusive parent whose relations with his daughter Brie won't stand close scrutiny, an uncaring husband who doesn't appreciate the treasure he's leaving behind in bed every time he goes on the road) that Sheila almost wishes he'd die. If Ray, a good cop who's not exactly a team player, had read his James M. Cain, he'd know what's coming next; and it's a tribute to Kelly's prose, alternately moody and lightning-quick, that even readers who do know will find themselves pulled along in fascinated dread. And if Kelly's fondness for portentous astronomical metaphors, and an especially brazen theft from The Postman Always Rings Twice, mark him as less able than Cain, he has a lovely way with a nasty phrase, as when a developer's wife appears "perpetually young, [with] the eyes of an accountant," and saves a couple of nifty surprises for the endgame.
A highly effective noir valentine that fans will treasure precisely for its ritualistic lack of originality.