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Fatal Command

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

This fast-paced book will remind the reader of the television show HILL STREET BLUES with its web of subplots and dizzying comings and goings of assorted characters. Like Hill Street Station’s Captain Furillo, the hero of FATAL COMMAND is the person responsible for keeping on top of whatever is going on. The main plot concerns an investigation of the mayor himself for suspected cocaine trafficking. In the meantime, new Chief of Detectives Fraleigh is being stalked by a psychopath who wants to kill him with an icepick. He is also trying to keep an important witness alive and is under heavy pressure to catch a serial rapist and a team of homicidal bandits. In his rare leisure hours he is in and out of bed with several different women, all of whom create new problems of one kind of another.

Joseph D. McNamara is exceptionally well qualified to write a police procedural. For ten years he was a New York City policeman, working some of the toughest precincts in the city. Then he became police chief of Kansas City, Missouri, and he is now police chief of San Jose, California, a onetime farm town that soon will have a larger population than San Francisco. McNamara also has the distinction of having received a doctorate in public administration from Harvard University. He writes with an authority rarely encountered in this genre. He is both street-smart and book-smart, but he tends to look at the world through a policeman’s eyes, with no illusions about people and no sympathy for criminals. In FATAL COMMAND he paints a glitzy picture of a hypermodern American city created by the computer industry, a city where the Ten Commandments have been scratched out and the only commandment is Don’t Get Caught.