Black Sand

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The police investigation of a bloody massacre in a Greek village reveals that the copy of Homer’s ILIAD given to Alexander the Great by Aristotle not only exists, but has been smuggled into the United States for sale to an unknown collector. Anxious to recover national treasure, the Greek government dispatches Major Andreas Vassos to New York to assist in the investigation as well as to oversee the return of the precious scrolls. Major Vassos is driven to complete his mission, as those responsible for the theft also set in motion the series of events which resulted in the death of Vassos’ wife and child.

Upon his arrival, Vassos is assigned to Lieutenant Teddy Lucas, born Theodorous Loucopolous, who soon discovers that the case involves a personal element for him as well. One of the individuals directly connected with the smuggling operation, Denny McKay, was responsible for the murder of a New York policeman years earlier. Lucas was unable to arrest McCay for the homicide at the time, and he welcomes the opportunity to rectify the situation.

The combined obsessions of Lucas and Vassos lead the two men closer and closer to the truth, as the mysterious leader of the smuggling ring attempts to evade capture by eliminating all those who might be able to connect him with the crime. With the help of the Greek police, as well as the unlikely assistance of the Soviet KGB, Vassos and Lucas recover the cultural artifact and ensure that the guilty are punished.

William Caunitz, the author of ONE POLICE PLAZA and SUSPECTS, is a sympathetic and realistic chronicler of what members of the New York Police Department refer to as The Job. He manages to portray effectively not only the tedium of the profession but also the bureaucratic necessities and legal complexities which often impede, if not prevent, the administration of justice. BLACK SAND is a compelling and intricately suspenseful work which catapults Caunitz into the ranks of Lawrence Sanders and Elmore Leonard.