RIGHTS by Lawrence Goldstone


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The untidy Rube Goldberg aftermath to the shooting of ghetto beauty Lawanda de Bourbon by rookie cop James Rodriguez, traced in satiric detail by first-novelist Goldstone. Did Rodriguez gun down Lawanda in cold blood as she fled across a rooftop in a drug raid, or did he fire in self-defense after seeing a gun in the hand of the mistress of drug kingpin Ali Akbar Abdul (Triple A)? Despite the clean-cut cop's fervent avowals, no gun can be found in the courtyard where Lawanda fell; and opportunistic lawyer Herbert Whiffet, fresh from his triumph in protecting homeless vagrant Fruitful Willis from harassing/harassed deli owner Murray Platkin and armed with a videotape of the shooting by out-to-lunch main-chanter Fernando Rios, rallies the black community in demanding revenge. As Herbert tries to dodge the newly acquired investigative skills of TV newscaster Cornelia Pembroke and puts aside his rewarding liaison with informative assistant D.A. Renee Libermann-Smith (roused to revenge herself when she thinks he's been two-timing him with impossibly glamorous Cornelia, nÉe Karen Pzytriek) for a place on jailed Triple A's legal staff, Murray's cashier Clarissa Taylor, thrown out of work when he closed his deli, finds her slide down the socioeconomic scale arrested temporarily by her son's employment by Ralph ""Uzi"" Jones, one of Triple A's top aides. Meanwhile, Internal Affairs investigator Phil Gagliardi and big-time defense attorney Meville Seltzer battle over the question of how (in the absence of hard evidence about the vanished gun) to slant the case so that Rodriguez will get off, or the department will come out looking good, or the cops can cut a deal to reduce Triple A's slaughter of innocents in the cross fire--all of this supplemented by a mercifully brief homily on whose rights are to be protected at the expense of whose. An amusingly overplotted Bonfire of the Vanities knockoff, minus Wolfe's epic sense of despair or fun.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1992
Page count: 268pp
Publisher: Permanent Press