Grief Street

Thomas Larry Adcock, Author Pocket Books $22 (336p) ISBN 978-0-671-51986-5
Always evocative, if occasionally labyrinthine, the Neil Hockaday series (Thrown-Away Child, etc.), set in New York City's Hell's Kitchen, offers some of the densest prose and most emotionally charged moments in crime fiction. In this newest tale, the devil himself might just be the killer. A rabbi is murdered, the skin torn from his face in front of 14 congregants who can only recall a foul smell and a shadowy presence. A group of Catholic demonstrators are shot. A nun is attacked, raped and left for dead. Hock, who knew two of the victims, has a reputation for fairness that has led him into serious trouble with his fellow officers, including the clearly psychotic ""King Kong"" Kowalski. In this instance, the identity of the victims is not the only coincidence haunting Hock. He and his wife, Ruby, who's black, are expecting a child, and the dream home they have their hearts set on figures strongly in the history of the neighborhood and currently houses a sinister squatter with a link to the killer. Grief Street isn't so much plotted as split-screened as Adcock splices Hock's investigation with snippets of conversation between an erudite old man and a voice full of Irish fire. Both men are clearly evil. The only questions are the identities behind the voices and the degree of evil possessed by each one. If Adcock occasionally gets too lurid here, his tale is atmospheric in the extreme and filled with many possibilities for guilt and redemption. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
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