(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

SHOOTER is the first novel of Eric Kinkopf, and it has a complicated plot that is filled with surprising incidents. The novel begins with a political cabal made up of the mayor, chief of police, a judge, and a prosecutor. The cabal, led by Frank Sims, the police chief, has hired a man identified only as the Shooter to execute members of the Satin Knights gang. The purpose of the executions is to make the gang move out of their area in order to further the political standing of the mayor and improve his chances for election. The cabal has had some success, but the Shooter’s mistaken murder of an eleven-year-old boy brings a burned-out detective, Stan Kochinski, in to investigate the murder.

The cabal decides to charge Julius Cooper, a gang member, with the murder of the boy, and Stan Kochinski is, at first, willing to go along with the official explanation. However, he begins to have doubts when he hears about the mysterious Shooter. Those doubts and Stan’s affair with the wife of the police chief bring him into conflict with Sims and the cabal.

The cabal begins to unravel when the judge shoots Julius Cooper— and the prosecutor—on the first day of the trial for raping his daughter. The mayor then loses his nerve, and Sims has him killed.

The climax of the novel pits Sims against his wife and Stan Kochinski. Frank’s wife shoots him, and the murder is blamed on the Shooter, whose identity is revealed at the end.

SHOOTER is a promising first novel, but it has some faults. The main character, Stan Kochinski, is a passive and unmotivated detective, and the ending is not fully resolved.