Tina Jordan
October 18, 2006 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Lightning Rule

Current Status
In Season
Brett Ellen Block
William Morrow
Fiction, Mystery and Thriller

We gave it a B

Newark, 1967: With race riots simmering and then exploding, Polish-American homicide cop Martin Emmett chafes at his predicament: He’s relegated to his precinct’s record room following an ugly lesson in police department politics. His lieutenant grudgingly hands him a case, the death of a black teenager in a subway tunnel. Figure it out, the lieutenant tells him: We’ve got all the trouble on our hands we need. Emmett is a terrific character. At one time he was on the path to the priesthood, and his shins are still calloused from prayer. He’s also saddled with the care of his alcoholic brother, who’s confined to a wheelchair since his days in Vietnam. Yet the mystery in Brett Ellen Block’s The Lighning Rule — is a serial murderer at work in Newark? — never lives up to the promise of Block’s main character or the gritty, bleak setting.

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