BLOOD WARNING by John Dillmann


Email this review


A third exciting autobiographical cop-vs.-killer caper from Dillmann (Unholy Matrimony, 1986, The French Quarter Killers, 1987). Though the author recently retired from the New Orleans homicide squad to head up a p.i. agency, he still writes a tough--unpolished--tale that almost rivals Wambaugh for its authentic feel for cop ways and woes. This time out, Dillman relates his 1980 case of doggedly chasing down a killer who turned a swanky apartment and then a swankier hotel room in New Orleans' French Quarterinto abatoirs: two slasher homicides that were bad enough, as one cop put it, ""to gag a maggot."" Although most New Orleans cops thought the killings unrelated, Dillman smelled one killer, and--as grittily detailed here--working mostly with informants, narrowed the suspects down to three: the prime suspect, Tyrone Cole, a black rip-off artist; Big Frank,"" a monster-sized alcoholic with a speech impediment; and a drug-dependent drunk, ""Crazy Johnny,"" who would attack others without warning, a smile stretched across his blond and handsome All-American features. The case builds in suspense--nicely underlaid with tension seeping in from Dillman's home life, where his long-suffering wife cries for some company and his daughter burns with a high fever--as Dillman methodically eliminates Cole as the culprit, with ever-more evidence pointing to Crazy Johnny--whose bragging about the crime finally gets him hauled down to police headquarters, where he confesses, only to plead innocent during a subsequent trial by judge. That trial, summarized here with much verbatim testimony, ends with a guilty finding; as Dillman mentions in his update, Crazy Johnny's now doing life at hard labor. Like looking over Dillman's shoulder as he stalks New Orleans searching for a monster. It's a harrowing, rough ride, one that steel-stomached true-crime fans will enjoy.

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 1989
Publisher: Putnam