Rebounding from last year's lackluster foray into Queens (Forced Entry), Stanley Moodrow returns to his colorful home turf of the Lower East Side (A Twist of the Knife, Force of Nature) for an exciting crime melodrama that pits the aging cop-turned- p.i. against a diabolical drug-dealer and his super-addictive designer drug, PURE. Always a smart stylist, Solomita expands his writerly horizons here by presenting the story from three primary points of view: that of Moodrow and of black lowlife Wendell Bogard, each told in the third person; and that of criminal mastermind Davis Craddock, told in the first person through his ongoing ``Autobiography.'' Although Moodrow's talewhich begins as romance-novel queen Connie Alamare hires him to get Craddock for overdosing her daughter and kidnapping her grandsonremains the focus, Craddock's memoirs prove the novel's chilling core as the white middle-class sociopathic genius reveals his devolution from an abused kid into the sexually depraved and homicidal false messiah of a Lower East Side-based psychotherapeutic cult, the Hanoverians, which recently has provided cover for dealing PURE, a heroin-coke combo more addictive than crack. Meanwhile, Wendell Bogard, hired by Craddock as his link to the black underworld, offers an ultrahip window on the action that provides much dark and tangy humor. As Moodrow homes in on Craddockwith the help of series regulars Betty Haluka, his lawyer girlfriend, and Jim Tilley, his old cop-partnerPURE-users start to turn up dead: the drug mutates lethally when heated, or smoked. Craddock runs, but not before snatching Betty, who in order to save Connie Alamare's grandsonrevealed as Craddock's sonhas tried to penetrate the Hanoverians incognito; wild with anger and fear, Moodrow kills Bogard, then tracks down Craddock for a bloody showdown. Strong, swift, and sure, but lacking the pervasive humanity and poetry of the streets that made Force of Nature (1989) a crime-thriller classic.