Olden, a talented veteran of the martial-arts thriller (Kisaeng, 1991, etc.), loves cops the way Elmore Leonard loves mobsters. His latest puts a freewheeling Irish NYPD detective under the microscope as he walks a Serpico-tightrope to unmask high-level corruption among the Big Apple's finest. Feargal Meagher is butt-ugly, vice-ridden, and whipsmart, not to mention being a general pain for both superiors and enemies. His only real loyalty is to his code--a practical cop philosophy that resides well to the right of Manhattan's liberal-leaning Upper West Side--and to his father, Dion, an equally gruff former detective. Meagher, fond of quoting Yeats and Wilde at opportune moments, has a poet's appetite for lovin': He's relinquished his heart to Lynda, a policewoman whose husband, Bobby ""Schemes"" Schiafino, is Meagher's nemesis. When Lynda turns up murdered, the apparent victim of a dope-addled homeless black guy, Meagher smells a rat, and his intuition points to Schiafino. There's a problem, though: Lynda owned some of Meagher's dirty linen, and he's unsure whether it found its way into her husband's hands. What follows is an orgy of cop dialogue, cop intrigue, and cop racism, plus a black female journalist who becomes an unlikely ally and a parade of feckless city politicians. It turns out that Schiafino is the point man for a network of cop assassins devoted to serving the interests of big money. Throughout, meanwhile, Meagher's aversion to moral compromise imbues an often repetitive narrative with plenty of juice, the manifold entertainments running a gamut from Meagher busting knees to Meagher foiling a rape to Meagher rescuing Dion by threatening to set afire one of Schiafino's raunchy accomplices. Piano-wire writing: razor-sharp but oh-so lyrical in a leathery sort of way. Dirty Harry with a heart of gold.