The House of Blue Lights

Robert J. Bowman, Author St. Martin's Press $0 (210p) ISBN 978-0-312-01042-3
South of Market is San Francisco's sleazy underside, populated by winos and derelicts, drug dealers and an occasional advocate for the poor and dispossessed. Cassandra Thorpe is one of these. A burned-out public defender, she is about to leave for the quiet rewards of a law practice in Santa Rosa when a charming old gent walks into her office with a briefcase full of coded, multicolored graphs and intimations that the owner of a shelter for the homeless is less philanthropic than he appears. Cass is drawn into a vortex of events involving a land-development scheme, two fires (one the possible arson of a local bar and the other the midnight torching of the bar's now-homeless owner in a park), a persistent myth about treasure buried under the demolished bar's parking lot and the city's organized crime network. Besides the redoubtable and compassionate Cass, who fixes old jukeboxes as a hobby, characters include her weak, opportunistic former husband, her mother (who runs a local diner), a spaced-out blond giant with an urge to violence and the large, ever-varied cast of San Francisco's indigent. This is a complicated and satisfying first effort; readers will look forward to seeing more of Cassandra Thorpe. (December 21)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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