April 02, 1984 12:00 PM

by William J. Caunitz

Investigating the grotesque murder of a young travel agent, the hero of this novel, a New York police detective, picks his way through a clue-strewn labyrinth. It leads to a connection between international terrorists and a group of hit men who are also cops. More interesting than this not-too-original plot, though, are the bits of police trivia that Caunitz, an active 29-year veteran of the New York City Police Department, easily conveys. There’s plenty of police jargon to be learned here—an “85,” for instance, is a date with a woman (short for” 10-85,” the signal for asking to be joined by another unit). The day-to-day diversions and perversions of the cops and “perps” (“perpetrators”) are realistic if unsavory too. Caunitz, currently on the prostitute-transvestite beat in Long Island City, displays an unsettling tendency to change his point of view in midthought; otherwise, this is an absorbing first novel out of the Joseph Wambaugh school of police fiction. (Crown, $14.95)

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