THE MURDER CHILDREN by John Ball

THE MURDER CHILDREN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The murder children are the members of rival gangs in the East L.A. barrio--and this police-procedural is a stolid, researched, but lifeless attempt to convey the horror of gang warfare and the dogged efforts of the noble cops who try to stop it. Lieut. Ralph Mott is new to gang control, and, while investigating the latest gang knifing, he too obviously gets help from an old Spanish-lady eyewitness--so she's soon gang-raped and killed. Eventually he'll luckily get a dying confession from one of her killers, but meanwhile the warfare goes on--only somewhat abated by a local priest's attempt to arrange truces and bring in new industry to reduce unemployment. (The priest is himself killed while trying to prevent the latest rumble.) Some of Ball's detail is gritty and convincing, but the characters remain stereotypes, especially the upright cops (Mott spends much of his time encouraging a talented local teen artist); and his unnecessary polemics--about ""the deadliest growing criminal virus we have to contend with today""--add to an overwritten, 1950s-ish tone that drains this fact-based docu-drama of contemporary vitality.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1979
Publisher: Dodd, Mead