Picks and Pans Review: Steely Blue

updated 12/10/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/10/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Dennis Smith

"There are some things a city kid carries within him all his days, Steely remembered, like stepping on the lines in the sidewalk....Maybe it was like a country kid who never forgets the smell of cut hay. A city kid never forgets the lines." Steely Blue is a New York City fireman, tough, edgy, full of anger. His wife has thrown him out, and his children are loving but afraid of him. When a young woman fire fighter is assigned to Steely's precinct house, the men are ready for revolt. A big fire comes, and Steely and another fireman have to depend on the woman to get them out. Then something goes wrong. Is it her fault or the fault of equipment, inferior and purchased because of bureaucratic corruption? Is it Steely's old friend's fault? Will the ties of the old neighborhood prove stronger than the need to do what is right? In spite of its predictable plot, Dennis Smith's new novel (he's the author of Report From Engine Co. 82) has all the right kind of gritty details. Once a fireman himself, he has created a genre: the fire-fighter procedural, which does for the firehouse what Evan Hunter/Ed McBain does for the New York police in his 87th Precinct novels. Such books have a special kind of verity that lifts them above the ordinary. (Simon and Schuster, $15.95)

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