SWEET DEAL by John Westermann


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Suburban Long Island, scene of Westermann's Exit Wounds (1990), is the menacing background in the search for a cop killer. Westermann, one of the few crime writers to realize that America is now the suburbs and that criminals live in ranch houses too, uses the sprawl outside New York to great effect as Detective Jack Mills seeks to become a real cop after years in the police department's p.r. division. Mills, a handsome former athlete now in his 30s, skated through his youth, supported by men and women who would do anything for a jack. Now divorced and living alone after the departure of his latest popsy, the homicide detective stands his first real police duty when he's charged with finding out who murdered Arthur Backman, a policeman disliked by everyone he knew, including his wife and yuppie son. Teamed with sexy Claire Williamson, a more experienced and competent detective, Mills begins to turn up evidence of Backman's corruption and his sordid liaison with a pathetic cop groupie, and rather quickly Mills finds that he is poking into the affairs of the local syndicate, the local Republican machine, and his own superiors at the police station. He may be in over his head. Even more awkward, he has become more than a little smitten with Detective Williamson, a very difficult woman to impress. Things get uglier as another rotten policeman dies and a nice little old Irish lady is menaced by a villain on a ten-speed. Good stuff. Westermann paints people rather than types and puts them into a palpable world of strip malls, frontage roads, and postwar subdivisions. Gangsters in the townships are as creepy as their brothers in the boroughs.

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 1992
Page count: 230pp
Publisher: "Soho--dist. by Farrar, Straus & Giroux"