Margot Mifflin
October 25, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Manhattan Nocturne

Current Status
In Season
Colin Harrison
Mystery and Thriller, Fiction

We gave it a B+

Briskly paced and intricately plotted, Manhattan Nocturne, Colin Harrison’s splatter-noir novel about a New York City journalist sucked into a web of sordid intrigue, has all the earmarks of a Hollywood blockbuster. When the troubled widow of a murdered filmmaker reveals herself — in more ways than one — to tabloid columnist Porter Wren, she endangers his job, his family, and his moral equilibrium. Harrison lays on the seamy subplots and incidental violence a bit thick, and his weakness for corny sex scenes makes this otherwise smartly written thriller cheesier than it needs to be. Wren’s protestations of moral conflict are unconvincing (he tells us how smart his surgeon wife is just before shooing her out of the story to pursue an idle blond bombshell). But Harrison’s dark depiction of New York —”a landscape of bad possibilities” — is vivid and gritty, and his ability to move his labyrinthine plot swiftly along makes this novel a heart-racing adventure. B+

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