cover image Falsely Accused

Falsely Accused

Robert K. Tanenbaum. Dutton Books, $23.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-525-94168-2

Followers of Tanenbaum's intelligent, 1970s-set series (Corruption of Blood, etc.) featuring married lawyers Butch Karp and Marlene Ciampi will find that the author's punchy style perfectly suits his latest three-ring crime spectacle. After years on New York City payrolls, both attorneys have quit for private work--Karp for a top firm and Marlene, after keeping house for a while, to start a detective agency with her burnt-out ex-cop pal Harry Bello. For his first case, Karp represents Manhattan's Chief Medical Examiner as he sues to get his job back plus damages after he has been fired by the mayor working in tandem with Karp's old nemesis, D.A. Sanford Bloom. Marlene finds her new challenge in the schoolyard where her seven-year-old daughter, Lucy, plays. When a young mother ask Marlene's help in stopping a stalker, Marlene's sleuthing leads her to a Lower East Side women's shelter where Lucy befriends two traumatized children and insists that her mother help them. The plot curve, unsurprisingly to those who know the series, is tossed by regal but ever-difficult journalist Ariadne Stupenagel, Marlene's pushy college buddy, who's digging into the suspicious suicides--while in police custody--of three gypsy cabbies. What she unearths is improbably connected to both Marlene's and Karp's cases. The links among these three very dissimilar narrative threads strains credulity, but Tanenbaum's talent is large, and so are his characters. These assets, along with a shot of genuine compassion for the troubles of children, enable him to just pull this one off. If readers won't quite believe the shockingly unconventional resolution, they'll still be affected by it, leaving them eager to know where this heroic family of crimefighters goes from here. (Sept.)