cover image JUSTICE FOR NONE


Daniel Lenihan, Gene Hackman, . . St. Martin's, $24.95 (307pp) ISBN 978-0-312-32425-4

This second outing by coauthors Hackman and Lenihan (Wake of the Perdido Star ) centers on Boyd Calvin, a 28-year-old shell-shocked World War I veteran. In 1929, Calvin stops by his ex-wife's home and finds her dead in a pool of blood, while her current boyfriend peruses a Bible in the kitchen. More shots ring out, and the lover is dead. Calvin is seen fleeing the scene, the only suspect. But the question of Calvin's guilt or innocence isn't really the point of the novel, which serves primarily to air the authors' opinions on race, class and the treatment of military veterans in America. When Calvin is initially apprehended, he lands in a jail cell next to George, a black man who's been unjustly charged with—yep, you guessed it—raping a white woman. The two become friends and fugitives together. Calvin shovels guts in a Chicago slaughterhouse and, with the help of George, briefly enters the world of early-20th-century black America and then dabbles in bootlegging. Once Calvin's travels exhaust the authors' apparent interest in exploring the social history of greater Chicago, Calvin turns himself in to the authorities to stand trial. Despite a few compelling scenes, the novel lacks focus and a unified vision, making for a tedious and poorly organized read. Agent, Noah Lukeman. (June)