THE EPISODE by Richard Pollak


Email this review


A fast-paced, literate medical-detective story about an epileptic reporter who awakens one day to discover that he may--or may not--have murdered someone during a seizure. Daniel Cooper is a muckraking reporter for New York's Tabula Rasa, a Village Voice-like weekly that specializes in skewering corrupt politicos and exposing scams. In fact, Cooper himself has just written a series on real-estate tycoon Steven Bromley's ruthless attempt to ""gentrify"" an S.R. O. hotel, the Bellemoor, by using hired thugs to scare out tenants. But Cooper is an epileptic, a secret he's guarded closely all his life, and one evening he has a grand mal attack following a daylong seizure; when he comes out of it, he has retrograde amnesia (a common side-effect) and can remember nothing of the previous 24 hours. Which wouldn't be so bad except that Billy Rourke, one of Bromley's goons, has been murdered at the Bellemoor--and Cooper discovers the murder weapon hidden in his own running clothes. Plus: Cooper's friend, tenant-activist Calhoun Bledsoe (instrumental in fighting Bromley and Rourke) has disappeared. What follows is classy, high-tension writing, with Cooper doggedly digging into the forgotten day for clues, while he holds off a suspicious detective and keeps the press at bay (the tabloids are having a field day with the downfall of a Tabula Rasa reporter). When Bledsoe turns up dead of a forcibly administered heroin overdose, the trail finally leads to a corrupt cop who secretly works for Bromley. First-novelist Pollak is a little tardy in unfolding his plot, which is ultimately no real surprise, but he's awfully good when it comes to the New York City of the 80's--from high-powered battles for real estate to streets full of poverty and madness to yuppies gliding to work in suits and running shoes. All in all, intelligent, forceful entertainment.

Pub Date: Sept. 19th, 1986
Publisher: New American Library