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Robert Daley, . . Harcourt/Penzler, $24 (360pp) ISBN 978-0-15-101229-9

The 17th novel from former NYPD deputy commissioner Daley falls short of his previous work (Year of the Dragon and the excellent nonfiction account Prince of the City ). His new hero, Vince Conte, is marking time as a PI for a security firm after he ruined a promising career with the NYPD by assaulting the deputy police commissioner for carrying on with Conte's gorgeous anchorwoman wife. Conte is doing unglamorous inquiries into employee theft when his company is retained to identify the plotters behind an extortion plot in a small European duchy. The unknown parties have already succeeded in breaking up the marriage of the duke's daughter by publishing compromising photos of her husband's poolside tryst. The clichéd European characters coupled with the absence of suspense and plot twists add up to an outing that lacks Daley's customary grit. (Nov.)