David Corbett, Author . Ballantine $24.95 (368p) ISBN 0-345-44753-0

Corbett (The Devil's Redhead) again uses some of the traditional tools of genre fiction in bold new ways in his sharp and exceptionally poignant second suspense novel. The feeling of a community under siege—in this case, a shabby but lively multiracial town called Rio Mirada, just north of San Francisco—comes straight from Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest, as concerned citizens and families trying to live decently come under attack from the forces of organized greed. There's a touch of Jim Thompson in the main villain, a hired thug calling himself Richard Ferry, who turns out not to be quite as detestable as he first appears. And Ross Macdonald might have created the head cop, a local detective named Murchison, who isn't as smart or as liberal as Macdonald's PI Lew Archer but nevertheless has aspirations to similar levels of achievement and humanity. The story begins with the murder of cantankerous black jazz musician Raymond "Strong" Carlisle, shot down in his front yard. Murchison and his racist partner, Stluka, have two suspects: Carlisle's son, also a talented jazzman, and a local gang member who is lucky enough to have a tough and resourceful mother to defend him. Corbett introduces such a large cast of characters in this sweeping narrative (including the cameo return of ex-con Dan Abatangelo from The Devil's Redhead) that some of them don't get enough time on stage. But the ones that do will linger in readers' thoughts for a long time. 4-city author tour. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 06/30/2003
Release date: 00/00/0000
Genre: Fiction
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