cover image Concourse


S. J. Rozan. St. Martin's Press, $21.95 (280pp) ISBN 978-0-312-13453-2

Rozan nails down the promise of China Trade, her debut and the introduction of memorable New York City PIs Bill Smith and Lydia Chin. Here, Smith goes undercover for his mentor Bobby Moran, who now runs a security firm. One of Moran's young employees has been brutally murdered-kicked to death by an expert in martial arts-while on the job at the Bronx Home for the Aged in an elegant old building on the no longer elegant Grand Concourse. Although the murder carries trademarks of the work of the Cobras, a powerful gang, Smith, posing as a Moran employee, investigates the premises and staff of the Home. Quickly, another member of the security staff is similarly killed; later, a member of the Home's staff is fatally shot in someone else's tossed apartment. Smith runs afoul of the Cobras while defending another Home employee, but his probings suggest that even more powerful villains are at work in philanthropic and political circles of the Bronx. Rozan's dense, credible plot cuts through all circles of its urban hell and is resolved with drama and realistic ambiguity. Her major characters-the classical piano-playing Smith who's in love with the independent, Asian-American Chin-and the minor cast, from dimensionally portrayed gang members to delicately drawn Home residents, leave a lasting impression. Rozan brings a distinctive, commanding voice to the genre. (Oct.)