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 All of Daley's thrillers deal with crime and cops, but each from a unique angle--the melodramatic sleuthings of Hands of a Stranger (1985), for instance, or the period capers of the Dangerous Edge (1983). Here, in a confident nod to the legal thriller, Daley offers a somber, steadily gripping tale of what might happen if a drug-dealer were to gun down five Manhattan cops during an arrest-gone-wrong. Daley's hero here isn't a cop at all, in fact, but A.D.A. Karen Henning, who's assigned the apparently open-and-shut case against the dealer. Daley works up Henning's background vigorously, focusing on her shaky family life--her husband resents her success- -and firing up readers to root for her as she's suddenly named D.A. and dives into a torrid affair with a cop involved in the case. Henning needs the sympathy, for arrayed against her is legendary defender Justin McCarthy (read: William Kunstler), as well as pressures flowing from the city/state establishment--envious co- workers; the anxious governor who appointed her D.A.; a black community that sees the trial as an outrage; a police commissioner and his cop-army that won't abide a not-guilty verdict. And then there's Mike Barone, one of the cops whose cowboy tactics led to the shootout, and whose action-exploits counterpoint Henning's legal moves throughout; his attentions lead Henning into a new and devastating eroticism. It's a rich tapestry of city life, but one that threatens to suffocate Henning even as, after much legal maneuvering, the verdict comes in...a surprise for all, including the reader. Daley's mean streets don't sweat like Stephen Solomita's, and his Gotham courtroom doesn't crackle like Robert K. Tanenbaum's-- but for strong, nonsensational drama that reveals all the rhythms of the city in their intricate syncopation, no one does it better.

Pub Date: April 14th, 1993
ISBN: 0-316-17196-4
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1993


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