A Clean Sweep

David Berlinski, Author
David Berlinski, Author St. Martin's Press $17.95 (230p) ISBN 978-0-312-08744-9
Hardcover - 414 pages - 978-0-7867-5396-3
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San Francisco shamus Aaron Asherfeld is distinguished mostly for his political incorrectness. First novelist Berlinski doesn't tell us why his sleuth is so opinionated and prejudiced, nor can we guess as we follow Asherfeld through a series of vaguely sketched plot turns. He is hired by a black mobster to find a businessman who has vanished, leaving behind a huge debt, a software company with a zoning problem, a wife and a sleazy, compromising photo of him and his girlfriend. Even after his employer is murdered, Asherfeld stays on the case, making the rounds of pornography joints and other San Francisco tourist traps, pressing the patience of the software execs and seeking clues among various city lowlifes. Asherfeld is a one-note wiseguy whose motor mouth gets him in and out of tight spots, and the plodding plot, centering around a missing person, fails to sustain interest or suspense. (Jan.)
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