THE ONION FIELD by Joseph Wambaugh


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A slight change from his two similar New Centurion-Blue Knight novels -- a burly story of crime and punishment in which, dead or alive, all are victims of the same slugs with which two sociopaths kill one policeman but leave his partner to face another kind of destruction. Greg Powell is a homosexual and the bad result of his parents, particularly his mother; Jimmy Smith, a black, a junkie, survives a worse background, primarily on the streets, and the two of them are stopped on the road because there are no lights on their license plate. Lifting the guns of police officers Ian Campbell and Karl Hettinger, they shoot Campbell and Hettinger barely gets away from the onion field where Campbell lies. Both are brought to trial but during the long weeks and years ahead -- seven including the appeals -- Karl deteriorates, sweats out his guilt night after night, begins to shoplift, loses his job and becomes virtually dead to the world he has withdrawn from. . . . This takes place in the early '60's when a cop was still a cop and even if Wambaugh has given up the shambling Wallace Beery prototype he's used before, he's still retained his hard-mouthed, softhearted approach to those who face each other on either side of the law reaching for a gun. Nothing if not readable which is enough for his constituency.
Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1973
ISBN: 0385341598
Page count: 509pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1973


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