Abandoning most conventions of the police procedural (but not pitch-perfect dialogue) in his tenth Mario Balzic tale, Constantine shrewdly observes social mores in economically depressed Rocksburg, Pa., and takes aim at the literary establishment in the process. On a visit to Muscotti's Bar, police chief Balzic gets an earful of woes from foul-mouthed author Nick Myushkin, who has penned nine critically acclaimed books but is currently broke and must leave home so his wife can collect welfare. Nick believes authors are exploited by readers who get their books from libraries and suggests that this can be remedied by tax credits to authors--not by subsidies to writing ``artistes,'' of whom he is grandly contemptuous. Why does Nick tell this to a cop? Because he's troubled and needs to talk, a condition Mario realizes has become pervasive in Rocksburg. Lonely people call in complaints to get attention from the police, while at home his wife Ruth, who attends a women's seminar at a local college, wants to talk because she can no longer confide in Mario's mother (who died in Sunshine Enemies, the most recent Balzic title). Beleaguered Mario, your average guy, listens, tries to help, sometimes loses his temper and finally recovers a troubling memory from Iwo Jima. Constantine takes a hard look at the world and discovers it doesn't make sense--which makes a pretty good mystery after all. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/01/2004 Release date: 05/01/1993 Genre: Fiction
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