What if the bad guys had gotten hold of the Rodney King beating tape? That's the question at the end of the trail that starts when Jennifer Sheridan, worried that her cop fiance Mark Thurman, of L.A.'s elite REACT crime-prevention squad, is hiding something from her, goes to laid-back p.i. Elvis Cole (Lullaby Town, 1992, etc.)--and in no time at all Cole has linked the five-man REACT team's fatal beating of drug suspect Charles Lewis Washington to Akeem D'Muere's Eight-Deuce Gang's determined attempt to stomp competing drug retailers. By the time the dust has cleared over the drug deal that Cole, his wired partner Joe Pike, and Washington's brother James Edward have tried to film, three men are dead, Cole and Pike are under arrest for murder, and Crais's rousing social-conscience fluff is just hitting its stride. After trading a little too obviously on his undeniable charm in the opening scenes, Cole delivers the goods in the kind of bravura performance only a pro can give.