cover image City When It Rains

City When It Rains

Thomas H. Cook. Putnam Publishing Group, $19.95 (268pp) ISBN 978-0-399-13555-2

Manhattan is the titular city of Cook's 10th novel, which is somewhat more successful with ambience than with suspense. Freelance photographer David Corman is facing eviction from his run-down apartment and a custody battle for his young daughter, who lives with him. His crime-scene photos are unprofitable and though he has been offered a steady job covering high-society functions, he stubbornly resists work that threatens his journalistic integrity. Encouraged to create a photo-essay about a murderer or victim whose life ended as a result of a ``slow decline,'' Corman investigates the alleged suicide of a mentally unstable Columbia graduate who, despite her privileged upbringing, wound up in a slum, gradually starving but giving blood to make money to ``feed'' the doll she treated as a baby. The mystery of the woman's death unfolds as Corman's domestic situation becomes increasingly desperate. Although Cook's ( Night Secrets ) settings and main characters are believably rendered, the mystery is less than gripping and the narrative features obtrusive yet essentially meaningless secondary characters, including Corman's married lover and a sinister cop. (Jan.)