K. C. CONSTANTINE – Good Sons. Rocksburg [not Mario Balzic] #12. Mysterious Press, hardcover, 1996; paperback, 1997.

   I had heard Constantine was calling it quits, but not so. Not only do we have this, but a Reliable Source tells me that there will be another Balzic to follow it. I also thought Constantine had said everything he had to say (and repeated a damned good portion of it), but I guess not-either that, or he needed the money.

   Detective Sergeant Ruggiero (“Ruggs”) Carlucci is more or less in charge of the Rocksburg, Pennsylvania police department since the retirement of Mario Balzic, and he thinks/is afraid that he may be in line for the Chief’s job. He’s got a lot of internal and external problems, and isn’t sure he wants it. His mind gets focused on another set of problems when a woman is found at a local business, horribly raped and mortally battered. The case will tell him a lot about himself, and what he can and wants to do and be.

   First, let me say that this is more of a mystery/crime novel than either of his last two books have been, not that it would take much more than a bigtime case of jaywalking to make that true. Carlucci isn’t as appealing a character to me as Balzac; I guess his problems don’t match up well enough with my own for me to relate well to his.

   I really don’t relate to Constantine at all any more, though on the basis of his earlier work I’m more than willing to concede that he’s earned his reputation. He preaches and speeches too much for me now, and though his blue-collar Everymen-and-women may be realistic, they just don’t interest me that much.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #22, November 1995