cover image Reckless Endangerment

Reckless Endangerment

Robert K. Tanenbaum. Dutton Books, $23.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-525-94347-1

Like a canvas by Bosch, the frenetic 10th installment in the popular Butch Karp and Marlene Ciampi series (Irresistible Impulse, etc.) is all foreground, a three-ring circus of mayhem and mystery. Here Tanenbaum pits Deputy DA Karp, his detective cronies Raney and Fulton and his security-expert wife, Marlene, against an amorphous army of Palestinians terrorizing New York. When Arab youths are implicated in the murders of two elderly Jews, Karp finds himself having to placate local Arab and Jewish leaders and at the same time convince the brass that the crimes point to a conspiracy. Meanwhile, a Mexican hit man linked to two jailed drug dealers is threatening to shoot up the metropolis and murder Karp's rival, Homicide Bureau head Roland Hrcany. Back home, Marlene is caffeinating herself to delirium to balance work and family. Then the teenage sister of one of the Arab suspects, on the lam after stabbing a pimp, lands improbably in a shelter for battered women run by Marlene's friend. Should Marlene inform Karp, or protect the girl? As always, there's much to cheer in Tanenbaum's work: quirky characters, snappy cop-talk, even a slam-bang car chase through a Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn, and the rousing action resonates with deeper themes as Karp, a lapsed Jew, tentatively accepts his ethnicity. But the constant jumps between subplots are wearying, the large casts of racist cops and racist terrorists run together and the resolution is strained as absolutely everyone is tied together into a too-perfect knot. Mystery Guild selection. (June) FYI: Media-alert readers will recognize Tanenbaum as the lawyer for a teenage defendant on trial in Delaware for killing her newborn baby.