BLACK MARKET by Robert Tine


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 The best novel so far from Tine (Midnight City, 1986, etc.): a richly colored suspenser about an all-black US Army unit in Rome in 1944, just after the Nazis have left. Art investigator Harry Leblanc is hired by art-dealer Peony Seagrave to look into the provenance of a valuable 17th-century painting by Guido Reni that has turned up in Harlem and been offered to her for disposal by Roberta Chapman, a cleaning woman and granddaughter of the late James Holt. The work is authentic, but how did Holt come by it? Leblanc's hound-doggery leads him into the novel's main subject--Rome's WW II black market and how Holt's black army unit found itself tied into the illegal dealings of its white sergeants and its no-good rich-boy lieutenant, Austin Kinney, the company's second-in-command. The ringleader of the black-market operation is Sgt. Eddie Manganaro, a hood with a lust for Mafia ties--and here he is, on the home grounds! Not that he hasn't made his bones back in the States, with his specialty, an ice pick into the ear. Manganaro draws Lt. Kinney and two fellow noncoms, McManus and Utterback, into an arrangement he's made with Rome's top Mafia boss, Lorenzetti, who sneers at Manganaro's Sicilian ties back home. They will deliver $15,000 worth of hams, canned goods, etc., to Lorenzetti's black-market warehouse once weekly. The sergeants and Kinney, however, have no intention of paying their drivers from the all-black Heavy Transport Division, and instead try to strong- arm the blacks--who, including Private James Holt, rob the secret cache of the sergeants and Lt. Kinney and refuse to return what they've stolen. Then the most foulmouthed, hate-spieling sergeant freezes one of the blacks in a freezer and a bloodletting bedlam erupts. Tightknit all the way, with strong characterizations, terrific dialogue, and a grand sense of street-life in a starving Rome.

Pub Date: Feb. 20th, 1992
ISBN: 0-312-06907-3
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1991


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