Picks and Pans Review: Providence

updated 03/24/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/24/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Geoffrey Wolff

A good cop, a lawyer and his family, a waitress who thinks she looks like Princess Di, a couple of burglars (one claims he makes better' spaghetti sauce than Paul Newman) and a mob leader are a few of the characters in this brisk novel set in Rhode Island. All the characters tell stories. They talk dirty and tough. One thug remembers that his father once said to him, "In a bar fight, bite the bastard's armpit. As long as you've got your teeth you've got your pride." The book is jammed with outrageous anecdotes, and at its heart is a lively history of the city of Providence. The novel opens with a body being retrieved from the river, then focuses on the lawyer—a member of an old, prominent family—at a moment of crisis. The waitress perks along on any available drug. She likes one of the thugs and corrupts the good cop absolutely. Crime and violence seem an almost random thing. Death is lurking and disaster hangs over every page—a nerve-racking suspense takes over early on. The crisp, abrupt style in Providence suits the story perfectly. It will give any reader a stepped-up pulse. (Viking, $16.95)

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