Diamond Eye

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

While skimming through a pile of seemingly ordinary adult videos, Max Diamond, a U.S. postal inspector, finds a very disturbing tape of child pornography and murder. Though his superiors feel the snuff film is a fake, the obsessive Max perseveres until he discovers an elaborate plot involving South Florida's leading drug dealer and a member of Peru's Shining Path revolutionary group.

Complicating Max's search for the truth are the apparently accidental deaths of two of his Yale classmates, members of one of that university's secret societies, as are Max and one of his bosses. Max begins to suspect that the deaths are no accidents and that the two remaining close friends from his Yale days, one a former lover, may be involved. He also finds himself falling in love with the daughter of the drug dealer.

Diamond Eye is, however, far from sordid pulp fiction. The pornography angle occupies only a small portion of Arthur Rosenfeld's gripping tale. More important is his portrait of the quixotic Max and his raging need to uncover evil. Rosenfeld balances the melodramatic side of his novel with details about the workings of the postal service, humorous touches as with Max's devotion to his 150-pound pet tortoise, and characters with names such as Seagrave Chunny, Cuco O'Burke, Memphis Hughes, and Mozart Potrero.

Max's psychological motivation, stemming from the death of a beloved younger sister, is a tad obvious, and Rosenfeld wraps up things a bit too quickly and neatly at the end. But the writer's skill, almost the equal to that of Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiassen, in depicting the colorful world of crime in the Miami area overcomes such shortcomings.