PRECINCT 19 by Thomas Larry Adcock


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A lame puff-piece on the day-to-day lives of the cops who cover Manhattan's Upper East Side (""the most remarkable and highly contrasting neighborhood in the world""), based on a year of what Adcock calls being ""a fly on the wall with pad and pencil."" The product should please New York's finest: there are no bad cops here, no corruption, no brutality--just dedicated men and women ""slogging through violence and tragedy and dreariness,"" easy to spot even out of uniform since they're ""heavier, it appears, full of other people's sorrows."" Adock acknowledges that ""a number"" of his police characters are ""composites,"" but several approach Wambaugh cop-fiction clichÉ: the unstable, is-this-all-there-is type who spends all his free time in bars (""I come here because I'm in a position where I can either drink or cry""); the cop haunted by the nightmare of having shot dead a teenage punk armed only with a pellet gun (""it wouldn't have done much harm. . . but how could he have known?""); the undercover policeman who spends so much of his Life dressed as a decoy wino that he begins to live like a bum off-duty (will he patch things up with his second ex-wife in fashionable Brooklyn Heights?). Female officers--other than one woman bounced from the force for posing for a skin magazine--receive little attention. Amid much soap-operatic cross-cutting of slices of cops' private lives, Adcock occasionally manages to convey the tedium, and the humor, of ""routine"" policework in a big city: from ""stink stiffs"" (dead bodies) to ""delicate cases"" (everything from wealthy crackpots to diplomatic matters) to a team of smash-and-grab transvestite burglars preying on Madison Avenue boutiques. All in all: only for the most undiscriminating police buffs.

Pub Date: Nov. 23rd, 1984
Publisher: Doubleday