PIGTOWN by William J. Caunitz


Email this review


Caunitz, whose recent work (Cleopatra Gold, 1993, etc.) makes you wonder whether the bad guys don't adhere to a higher moral code than the boys in blue, dishes more dirt on New York's finest. This installment's catalyst is the killing of Brooklyn gangster Beansy Rutolo by a pair of Rastafarians taking time off from their usual jobs working for dirty retired Sgt. Paddy Holiday. Lt. Matthew Stuart, who catches the homicide, can see right away that Beansy's connections -- Andrea Russo, who owns the house in Pigtown whose refrigerator he was found in, and her neighbor Mary Terrella -- will bring him up against a pair of big, bad guns: Russo's sometime associate Daniel Lupo; and Terrella's lover, Frankie Bones Marino. But Stuart doesn't know how deep a hole he's stepped into even when Russo tells him that these two lovelies have demanded that she sleep with Stuart in order to keep tabs on him. The romance is a base canard -- Stuart would never be unfaithful to Lt. Suzanne Albrecht, his secret pal back at One Police Plaza -- but it's only the first step in an elaborate frameup of Stuart by higher-ups who don't want his investigations to disrupt the flow of drug payoffs to their widows-and-orphans fund. The plot thickens further when Lt. Ken Kirby, another Lupo/Marino associate, decides to pay back Det. Helen Kahn, who's just broken off their affair, by throwing her into the frame too. But the industriously scheming crooks all seem tired, maybe from delivering lines like ""Federal health regulations make them disinfect the inside after each load,"" and it's not until Internal Affairs gets its hooks into Stuart and Kahn and they hunker down to nail the payoff kings and high-level takers on the job that Caunitz really starts to earn his dime. Persevere past the clunky exposition, and you'll find a zooful of cops and robbers so rotten they squish when you squeeze them. ""Pigtown"" is right.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1995
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Crown