Forge, Feb 2002, 27.95, 528 pp.
Chicago Alderman Skip Murphy kills his bedroom partner bargirl Sophie Novak during a rough sex incident. Knowing his career is dead if his deadly dalliance surfaces, Skip needs to cover up the crime. He turns to Violent Crimes Unit Detective Joe Donegan, an individual who uses the badge to successfully perform illegal activities, to help clean up his problem. Not only does the corpse burn to ashes, but also witnesses who have seen Skip with Sophie are killed.
Joe sees his new work as an upward mobility career move. Police Commander Larry Cole and his partner Sergeant Blackie Silvestri know the truth about Joe's revenue making actions, but struggle to find evidence to prove their case. Now they have a murder mystery that smells of Donegan, who slyly manages to keep one step ahead of his peers.
Donegan steals this police procedural, as the veteran team (in books too) seems to fail to stop this master felon. The story line of CRIMINAL ELEMENT moves quickly forward though Larry and Blackie appear hopeless and even somewhat pathetic in their chase of Joe. Hugh Holton, who recently past away, provides fans of his Chicago police procedural series with a pleasurable entry though the villain owns the novel.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner