ON THE EDGE by James Mills


Email this review


Mills writes superbly about people who live on the edge of life or death--a smart, hamfisted Times Square precinct detective; a grand lady judge who presided for over 35 years in a children's court; the junkies John and Karen of Mills' famous Life article ""Panic in Needle Park""; a millionaire lawyer working for Legal Aid who has defended over 10,000 clients, 98% of whom he knew were guilty and for whom he nevertheless wanted not justice but freedom (""If you say I have no moral reaction to what I do, you are right""); a gangster whose Mafia brother--a hit man for Vito Genovese--has been chained, stabbed, shot and drowned and is beyond identification in the morgue (""According to the code of the greaseballs he was supposed to be killed,"" says the brother, himself a hit man); the prisoners in the stripped high-tension-wire insanity of Section 8--murderers' row--of Manhattan's Tombs (""Give me my motherfuckin' gun!""). The coda is an elegy to a tough detective who retired, then committed ""the Dutch act""--suicide. Unflinching and stringently exciting reportage as well as a work of considerable moral insight.

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 1975
Publisher: Doubleday