When the City of Angels goes haywire following the beating of Reginald Denny, the last person you want to be is a black detective in the LAPD's Robbery-Homicide Division. Charlotte Justice, who's hearing her share of ethnic slurs from the back of the police bus trolling for rioters, gets beaten by her own colleagues when she tries to keep them off Lance Mitchell, an emergency-room doctor they find on King Boulevard past curfew. But Mitchell, a womanizer whose syndicated Love Doctor wife is doing everything she can to keep their messy divorce quiet, may not be worth Charlotte's trouble, especially when his missing wallet is found under the corpse of Robert (""Cinque"") Lewis, the one-armed revolutionary who vanished after murdering Charlotte's husband and baby daughter over ten years ago. Charlotte, who still can't bring herself to clean out her late family's things, is glad that her battles on Mitchell's behalf bring her together with Mitchell's boss Dr. Aubrey Scott, her onetime high-school flame, but she isn't ready to let Aubrey as far into her life as he wants to come. Meantime, a trail of fresh casualties leads from Cinque Lewis's Black Freedom Militia to gallery owner Reggie Peeples's program to foster inner-city black artists. What's the connection, and how do Charlotte's own department, and Charlotte herself, fit in? Anthologist Woods (Spooks, Spies, and Private Eyes, 1995) puts an African-American spin on Sara Paretsky's trademarks (the broad canvas filled with big events, the tough-as-the-boys heroine, the gimlet eye for urban corruption) in this important debut.