DAMAGED GOODS by Stephen Solomita


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Solomita, evidently tired of messing around in his last two thrillers with substitutes for battle-scarred Stanley Moodrow (A Piece of the Action, 1992, etc.), ex-cop turned p.i., returns to what he does most--in this volcanic, lumbering mano a mano a mano. Moodrow's prey this time, a crazy killer named Jilly Sappone, would still be in jail if the New York parole board hadn't mysteriously voted to reverse its denial of his appeal. Out on the streets, Jilly's hooked up with his old ceilmate Jackson-Davis Wescott, a kindly, retarded rapist who wouldn't hurt a soul--except for all those women--and gone after the ex-wife who turned him in. By the time Moodrow's called to the scene, Ann Kalkadonis is already in the hospital; Jilly has snatched her four-year-old daughter, Theresa-Marie; a battered-women's group has retained computer specialist Ginny Gadd to investigate; and Moodrow, feeling every inch a dinosaur, has to play second fiddle to a female op young enough to be his daughter. His obvious cue, once Gadd's database searches have uncovered a lead, is to track Jilly through his cousin Carlo, a fuddled dealer who's his own best customer. But when Moodrow and Gadd bully Carlo into telling what he knows and speed off to ground zero, Jilly, prone to epileptic rages, provokes a violent stalemate that sends Moodrow back to the drawing board--and the question of who put a spoke in the wheels of justice by pressuring the parole board to turn Jilly loose. At this point Solomita (Last Chance for Glory, 1994, etc.) turns from his usual focus on white-hot action to marking an edgy, shapeless waiting game involving Moodrow, the NYPD, a pair of FBI sharpies, Jilly's canny Aunt Josie, and Jilly himself. Solomita ladles on the double-crosses, the casual killings, the sexual perversions--but despite the constant threats of mayhem and S&M, his monstrous circus hogs down in one chargeable felony after another.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1996
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Scribner