CHAINS OF COMMAND by William J. Caunitz


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From the author of Pigtown (1995), etc.: a savvy, compelling police procedural, completed by Christopher Newman after Caunitz’s death in 1996. The NYPD’s police commissioner is about to step down, and First Deputy Suzanne Albrecht is in line for his job. And, boy, does this ferociously ambitious lady want it. But there are problems. She has reasons, good ones, to believe that a department-wide scandal might be brewing—the kind that could derail her. Needing help, she calls on the one man she feels she can trust absolutely. These days, Lieutenant Matt Stewart works out of the Intelligence Division, and the two see each other rarely, but they have a history. They were lovers once, a fact that would startle virtually all of their colleagues; over the years it’s become a departmental article of faith that the “Ice Maiden” has no personal life. Because Matt still cares for her and because he thinks she would make an excellent commissioner, he agrees to be reassigned to the 37th Precinct, as its whip. Why the 37th? Because in that boiling pot of ethnic diversity, the entrepreneurial spirit creates the action—Columbians, Dominicans, Chinese, Italians, Afro-Americans, all competing (and occasionally combining)—for the crack-cocaine dollar. It’s from that direction, Suzanne feels certain, that the unsettling smell of trouble is wafting her way. She’s right. And she’s also right about the quality of the man she’s selected to watch her back. Despite this, as she discovers, fate is an unfair opponent. When the smoke finally clears—a last act with a body count surpassing Hamlet’s—it’s obvious that still another set of best-laid plans has gone astray. The people are genre staples, and the prose often pedestrian, but sheer storytelling power places this one among Caunitz’s successes.

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 1999
ISBN: 0-525-94514-8
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1999


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