When the NYPD captain laments, “Why can’t the media concentrate on the honest 25% of the cops in my precinct?,” he’s talking about Detective First Class Alvin Yablonsky, who’s ending a long hiatus after his debut in The Bone Orchard (1990). Because he’s one of the honest one-in-four, Yablonsky’s preferred forms of corruption are less flamboyant than the norm, from the modest freebie to merely occasional subversions of the rules of evidence. Still, he can claim the old-fashioned virtue of loyalty. When 300-pound “Skinny” MacPherson, hard-hitting investigative newspaper reporter and cherished friend, is found murdered, it’s Alvin on the spot, digging in despite mounting pressure to soft-pedal the case. “You’re just like that cop Javert,” a detractor sneers, and there’s no dearth of detractors among Trigoboff’s uniformly sleazy cast. The crooked deputy mayor, the blow-with-the-wind police commissioner, and a grab-bag of self-serving internal-affairs snoops are solidly aligned in an ad hoc anti-Yablonsky task force, gaining intensity as the detective persists in stepping on certain expensively shod toes. And then there’s that darling of the media, the Nobel Peace Prize–winner Sully Barnes, whose early years were devoted to petty crime until a sudden epiphany brought him as close to the homeless as Mother Teresa. Are there skeletons in Sully’s closet, and did the late Skinny hear them rattling?
Quixotic Yablonsky tilts tirelessly at his windmills, getting off some funny lines in the process. Be warned, though: Beneath the banter, Trigoboff’s take is mordant.