Which murder would New York City chief of detectives Bert P. Farber least like to be investigating? The police commissioner's, of course. Especially when the commissioner was the old partner who leapfrogged him into his present job over the senior competition -- now his competitors for the commissioner's job, who would like nothing better than to hamstring his investigation. Not that there was any love lost between Bert and the late Harry Chapman, who told his partner the first night on patrol about his timetable for advancement: two years as patrolman while finishing law school, three years in the DA's office, then Congress, the commissioner's job, then senator or governor, then the big one. He'd still be well within his timetable if he hadn't been shot in the heart one snowy morning on Manhattan's Upper West Side. But Bert, once he gets over a serious case of the flashbacks (he and Harry had romanced the same two women, marrying each other's dates), wonders why Harry was jogging miles from his Greenwich Village home. Despite interference from his rivals for Harry's job, he soon finds a love nest unlocked by the key he snitched from Harry's corpse. But which of Harry's secret women killed him -- the flight attendant, the Mafia princess, or the inevitable police wife? Bert has swiped both the key and the fatal bullet without logging them in, broken into Harry's office to steal his little black book, seized a stained suit of clothes without a warrant, and hidden in a ladies' room to interrogate a suspect while her lawyer waited back in his office. Given these breaches of procedure, what kind of case will the DA be able to make against the perp, and what will Bert's reputation, to say nothing of his chances for promotion, look like when the dust has settled? Not up to the level of Tainted Evidence (1993) -- -those long flashbacks, fueled by nothing more than a heap of dramatic irony, make the first half of the novel slow going. But once it builds up steam, a powerful portrait of a bulldog cop who doesn't even know himself why he won't let go.