Free Fall

Jennifer Sheridan is a stereotypical example of the classicAmerican story of success and conformity. She is gainfullyemployed with good prospects, engaged to a man she’s known sincehigh school, and a member of the dominant ethnic group. Nonetheless, she feels compelled to ask Elvis Cole for assistance. Jennifer is convinced that her fiance, Mark Thurman, is in seriousdifficulty. Mark is a policeman, a new member of an elite unitwith every expectation of rising within the ranks of the LosAngeles Police Department. Still, Jennifer sees daily changes inMark’s behavior, and she wants Elvis to find out the nature of theproblem.

Elvis is reluctant to give much credence to Jennifer’s fears,but, despite considerable misgivings, he agrees to spend a few daysinvestigating what he is convinced will emerge as little more thanan unexpected romantic triangle. Within minutes, however, Elvis iswarned off the case by Mark Thurman, and the consequent irritationleads him to look more carefully at the situation. As eventsunfold, Elvis finds himself confronted with evidence of obviouspolice involvement with a homicidal street gang. Soon, Elvis andhis sometime-partner Joe Pike are on the run and fighting for theirlives.

Those familiar with this genre will be instantly reminded of thework of Robert Parker. But if Elvis Cole and Joe Pike are stronglyreminiscent of Spencer and Hawk, the locale is Los Angeles, notBoston, and that makes a world of difference. Moreover, Cole andPike are of the Vietnam as opposed to the Korean War era andtherefore bereft of the fragmented idealism that characterizesParker’s work.