SAINT MIKE by Jerry Oster


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When federal narcotics agent Paul Van Meter is shot dead in Manhattan, the evidence suggests that Paul had ""gone rogue""--secretly selling out to the big-time drug-dealers--and that he was killed by a sexy, double-crossing drugworld femme fatale. So Paul's wife Susan, a semi-retired narc herself, has two missions when she agrees to go undercover on the case: to avenge Paul's death; and to find out if he was indeed a decadent, philandering crook. A.k.a. ""Saint Mike"" (her maiden name was Szentmihalyi), Susan is soon posing as a ruthless dealer, mixing with the glitzy, kinky drug. crowd in Beverly Hills, Aspen, the Hamptons. She plays cat-and-mouse games with that femme fatale, putting herself in peril from Thorazine injections and lesbian clinches. She finds an odd ally in seedy Ted Scally, a former Olympic ski champ who's in the drug world to avenge the death of his Italian girlfriend (speared during a druggie-chic game involving knights in armor). And Susan soon suspects that husband Paul, no rogue, was working under deep cover to unmask the real rogue in the department. But before working up to a showdown with this prime psycho-villain, Susan has to rescue daughter Carrie--a teenager tempted by drugs. . .and kidnapped by one of Susan's new contacts in the manic, paranoiac dealing biz. The basic melodrama elements here are all familiar, some of them even soap-operatic or hokey. But, as usual, Oster (Rancho Maria, Nowhere Man, Sweet Justice) raises the interest level--if not the suspense tension--with ironically stylish narration, hip details, offbeat dialogue, and a fragmented focus. (The quirky sideshows include the sex-hangups of Susan's ambitious narc-boss and ugly feuds among inner-city dealers.) Only half satisfying, then, but sardonic and flashy enough to intrigue devotees of black-comic, coolly horrific procedurals.

Pub Date: Oct. 21st, 1987
Publisher: Harper & Row