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Lady Gold

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

As part of a sting operation to turn a Mafia don, the OCTF (Organized Crime Task Force) is holding his nephew Eugene in luxurious protective custody. Supposedly Eugene is going to set up his uncle Tony for a drug purchase, taping enough of the transaction to incriminate him. Tony can then be “persuaded” to rat on the big boss, Sally Messina.

It takes quite a while before Eugene can even arrange a meeting with his uncle, and after he does, everything spins rapidly out of control. Eugene and Rey, the special operations cop acting as his buddy and bodyguard, spend their days bodybuilding at expensive health spas and their nights in smoky nightclubs. The plan misfires, creating an embarrassing corpse and eventually a shoot- out, just as the OCTF thinks it has Uncle Tony nailed.

From the beginning, Gerry knows that behind Eugene’s streetwise demeanor is a naive and vulnerable young man. Just how vulnerable, though, she discovers from the one-sided deal his captors talked him into. Her own cynicism grows as she realizes what is behind the task force’s zeal for this case. At best, it is driven by interdepartmental rivalry. Meanwhile, her fiance leaves her and she struggles to keep up with her law school courses.

Gerry does not fall in love with Eugene, as some of her police colleagues accuse her of doing. But they do fall into an edgy friendship which neither had anticipated. At the end, they are both plunging into major life changes, but with hope.

LADY GOLD’s heroine is a detective, and the story contains plenty of action and suspense, but it is primarily a novel of character. Whether their organizational “home” is a police department or the Mob, individuals sometimes have to define their moral code, as Gerry ultimately does, by acting apart from it.