cover image Lieberman's Folly

Lieberman's Folly

Stuart M. Kaminsky. St. Martin's Press, $15.95 (216pp) ISBN 978-0-312-05398-7

An overabundance of irrelevant character vignettes impedes Kaminsky's (Toby Peters and Inspector Rostnikov series) procedural, which features the partnership of Chicago cops Abe ``Rabbi'' Lieberman and Bill ``Father Murphy'' Hanrahan. When prostitute Estralda Valdez, a past informer, asks the pair for protection, tippler Hanrahan agrees to watch her apartment from a Chinese restaurant across the street. After Valdez is murdered during Hanrahan's watch, he and Lieberman investigate her death, despite the objections of their captain, who is unhappy about negative publicity; they were off duty while they were protecting Estralda and she was only a prostitute, after all. In pursuing the case, the cops encounter a variety of characters, each supplied with copious background. Yet because of the profuse but scattershot surface details, no one-- not even the major characters-- is believable. In fact, the wealth of unfocused information tends to irritate rather than illuminate. Inconsistencies also plague the story, especially when Valdez's mysterious sister, a key ingredient to the plot, is found among a group of characters with whom the detectives should have been familiar. Edgar Award-winner Kaminsky ( A Cold Red Sunrise ) is a facile writer working over a trite tale. (Mar.)