Picks and Pans Review: Fat Tuesday

updated 08/25/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/25/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Sandra Brown

The bullet was meant for a drug dealer. But when New Orleans narcotics cop Burke Basile fires into a dark alley during a late-night drug raid, it is Basile's partner who dies. The guilt-racked policeman vows revenge on the drug kingpin he holds responsible and devises an elaborate plot to bring him down by taking the one thing he truly holds dear: his beautiful young wife, Remy.

With deft, breakneck pacing, heaping doses of local color and a story that gets more intriguing with every page, Brown nabs the readers as well, turning the oft-trod premise into a surprisingly affecting thriller. Though she occasionally succumbs to dopey dialogue and romance-novel cliches ("He kissed her hungrily, not with finesse. ... But ravenous men eat gracelessly"), her twist-packed story more than makes up for it. For romance and suspense fans alike, Fat Tuesday—like its French cousin Mardi Gras—offers plenty to celebrate. (Warner, $24)

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