Buy this book?

By Scott Flander

Morrow, 2000, $24.00

Reviewed by Victor Gischler

When I started reading Flander's novel, I thought "Oh hell, a typical cop story." Indeed, SONS OF THE CITY appears to go through the usual motions. Eddie North is a good cop, but he was kicked out of the organized crime unit for what he considers to be no good reason. He's been reduced to uniformed patrol cop and naturally resents it. He's mentor to his cousin Nick, a rookie cop. He butts heads with a kingpin mobster and his muscle. He meets a nice girl (also a cop) but "the job" gets in the way. All the cop-book tropes are thrown at us hot and fast.

It is on a routine call to a crack-house that Steve, a lovable, wise-cracking cop, catches a bullet in the face. Steve just happens to be the police commissioner's son. Intense racial riots add to the chaos and hinder the investigation. Naturally, there's more to Steve's murder than meets the eye and Eddie North, feeling the weight of responsibility as Steve's immediate superior, takes a personal interest in the investigation.

The usual follows. Mobsters. Corrupt cops. Sing along if you know the tune.

But sometimes we want and need exactly what's expected, and if you're looking for an easy, fun read that doesn't strain the gray matter, I highly suggest you pick up a copy of SONS OF THE CITY. Flander has a good way with dialogue and action and paints for us a vivid portrait of Philadelphia's gritty streets and the cops who patrol them. His characters might be a little typical, but they are sympathetic and believable. Flander might even be the next Ed McBain if he can consistently produce novels as readable as SONS OF THE CITY.

Flander proves he has a serviceable sense of humor as well. One chapter in particular amused me, a chapter in which a man/woman cop team fail to realize they've left their microphone on. They dive around looking for a place to screw while the other cops listen to the whole thing.

Not innovative, but certainly fun, SONS OF THE CITY is worth a shot, and Scott Flander is an author worth watching.

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