Picks and Pans Review: Perfect Cover

updated 05/02/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/02/1994 01:00AM

by Linda Chase and Joyce St. George

When some enterprising TV producer lays hands on this terse, gritty novel (and one surely will), the series may be called NYPD Lace and should feature as much in the way of sex, violence, sticky relationships and human foibles as the Blue variety. In Cover, fictional investigator Tina Paris is one of only two women assigned to the Office of the Special Prosecutor, the group set up by New York City's Knapp Commission in 1970 to ferret out misdeeds among the ranks of the city's intractable criminal-justice machine.

Sometimes she's down and dirty in jeans and sneaks, tracking a murderous detective through the belly of Brooklyn where even "the cashiers of take-out Chinese restaurants stand like bank tellers behind counters covered by bullet-proof Plexiglas with slots too narrow for a gun barrel." And at other times, Tina slips into a little black dress to woo a mafioso who is getting too friendly with a judge (now, where can she hide that body mike?). Along the way, she turns out her married lover, who won't leave his wife, and lakes up with a cop who becomes a suspect in one of her cases.

Throughout, Paris endures the sexual and racial (she's half Puerto Rican, half Italian) chauvinism of her male comrades with admirable patience. And it is her team that backs her up at the gripping conclusion of Cover, when her investigations converge in a nightmare of action and surprise revelations.

Cover's defiant realism is hard-won. Coauthor Chase is a TV scriptwriter, and St. George, now a community-relations specialist with her own consulting firm, served as the only woman undercover investigator for the special prosecutor in New York City for six years. So make a place for them on the shelf along with such ex-cop authors as Kim (Rush) Wozencraft and Dorothy (False Witness) Uhnak. They have earned their badges. (Hyperion, $19.95)

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