(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

James Deford Lyons sold out the people of Rocksburg, Pennsylvania, when he shut down Conemaugh Steel and exported the high-paying jobs to Brazil. When he is found murdered, possible suspects include nearly everybody. Detective Sergeant Ruggiero “Rugs” Carlucci of the local police is thwarted and badgered by State Trooper Claude Milliron, who wants to grab the glory for solving this high-profile case.

Middle-aged Rugs still lives with his mother, who is not only senile but has become homicidal. He is too poor to put her in a good nursing home but earns too much to qualify for government aid. Early in the story his vicious, foul-mouthed mother, who has to be watched around the clock, goes on a rampage with an iron pan and inflicts severe injuries on several people including her own son. Rugs has to conduct his investigation with a broken nose and seven stitches inside his upper lip.

When former local steelworkers union president Frankie Krull is murdered by the same kind of bullet found in Lyons’ body, Rugs narrows the possible suspects to men who could have grievances against both management and the union. This uncovers a prime suspect with whom the humble, compassionate Rugs conducts extended interviews, in which the bitterness of many of America’s skilled working men is expressed in eloquent vernacular.

K.C. Constantine is the pseudonym of the author of fifteen previous novels set in fictional Rocksburg. His books pack power because he knows police work, understands the plight of the common man, and excels in writing earthy, realistic dialogue.