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Here we have, once again, the closeted police officer. We also have the old device of the detective being emotionally and sexually attracted to one of the chief suspects. What lifts this novel out of the ordinary is that we also have the first work to take a long, hard look at a gay alcoholic cop.
“Ponte Bonita,” Florida, police detective Michael Weiss is a weekend drunk—the falling down kind that has blackouts and who reports to work hung over. His need to face the closet and his drinking comes to a head when celebrity lawyer Craig Davies’s naked body is found posed in a fountain outside the home of former television star Sam Christiansen, Michael’s childhood idol. To Michael’s disgust, his department is willing to pin the murder on an illegal Mexican immigrant, who is conveniently killed by an officer during his apprehension.
Egged on by the quasi-out television anchor Brian Whipple, who unabashedly uses Michael for sex and as an inside source of information, the detective refuses to let go of the closed case. The two men pursue leads with the help of Officer Sarah Dean, a largely ostracized lesbian in the department. As the three investigate the sordid life of the lawyer in greater depth, including a look at two of his five wives and at Christiansen, who was the lawyer’s best friend, the murderer strikes again. Michael is not sure that Sam is not, in fact, the serial killer even as they start having sex.
The case itself comes to a satisfactory resolution, though not without peril for Michael’s own life, but his personal problems realistically remain only partly resolved at the novel’s ragged end.
By Sullivan Wheeler
Paperback, 338 p., $17.99