EVIDENCE by John Weisman


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An intermittently gutsy but emotionally unconvincing update on a formula at least as old as The Front Page--the newspaperman so dedicated to getting his story that he is no longer (as put by the trendy talkers here) ""a person."" He's Bob Mandel, investigative hotshot for a Detroit paper and our (often repetitive and self-indulgent) narrator. When Bob's colleague and chum, Jack Fowler, is murdered while investigating the world of teen male prostitutes (""chickens""), Bob agrees to pick up the case--reluctantly, because he knows that Jack himself was secretly bisexual. What Bob soon discovers, however, from Jack's tapes and from digging around, is worse than that: Jack was heavy into the scene he was supposed to be exposing and was deeply involved with a mixed-up 17-year-old kid--who is now Bob's star source (he actually witnessed Jack's murder, through a drug-induced haze) and is kept quasi-prisoner in the newspaper's corporate suite. Is Bob's investigative zeal really motivated by his anger at Jack, whom he selfishly feels betrayed by? How far will ruthless Bob go (e.g., drugging the kid to get him to talk)? As colleague Nina says: ""The story. The story. Is that it for you? Is that all there is?"" Sturdy enough questions--but Weisman lays it on too thick, oozing a sentimentality that mixes uneasily with the tough mindset and the voyeuristic dankness here: he plays up the sexual angles, from Bob's threesome with Jack and Nina (""Jack in her ass and me up her snatch"") to the assorted gay combos, for maximum prurient interest. As a thematic character study, then: stilted and foggy. But the investigation itself--pimps, gay bars, cop opposition, etc.--steams by fairly juicily, and there are a few very funny lines along the way. So: fans of raunchy, streetwise reporter lore may want to ignore Bob's whining and concentrate on the okay action.

Pub Date: April 3rd, 1980
Publisher: Viking