Denis Hamill, Author . Atria $25 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7434-6298-3

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SINS OF TWO FATHERSDenis Hamill. Atria, $25 (384p) ISBN 0-7434-6298-X

There are many fine things in Hamill's latest action-packed thriller, though a credible villain isn't one of them. There's a pitch-perfect portrait of a post–9/11 New York City—including details of what it's like to be stopped and strip-searched at JFK airport; what happens when you think a letter you've just received is laced with anthrax; how close you can come to dying by taking notes when a National Guardsman says you can't; or what it's like being on the wrong Brooklyn street when a militant Jewish vigilante group rolls by. There's also a juicy picture of media high life in Manhattan, the home turf of Hamill's hero, Pulitzer Prize–winning newspaper columnist and novelist Hank Tobin. The novel's only flaw is the all-knowing, all-powerful, endlessly resourceful "LL"—a vengeful father forced into drastic action by a column Tobin wrote 10 years ago that wrongfully sent his son to prison. "LL"—whose background as a janitor is unconvincingly offered to explain his instant access to everything from Tobin's private cell phone number to his newspaper health insurance—is using his superpowers to frame Hank's son, Henry Jr., a promising 22-year-old journalist, on the charge of bombing a Brooklyn mosque. Hank, separated from his retired cop wife and estranged from his family after years of boozing and related sins, strives for all kinds of redemption as Hamill's runaway train of a plot barrels along. Readers should enjoy the ride, especially the scenery. (Oct.)