Picks and Pans Review: The First Law

updated 03/03/2003 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/03/2003 01:00AM

by John Lescroart

Abe Glitzky, a homicide detective who is black and Jewish, has been reassigned to payroll after a long recuperation from a gunshot wound. So when a pawnbroker friend of Abe's father is murdered and Dad nudges Abe to keep tabs on the investigation, Abe has to tread carefully with his new boss. Meanwhile bar owner John Holiday, sought for the pawnbroker's murder and three others, tries to prove he's been framed.

A complicated plot and too many characters make heavy demands on the reader, and Lescroart adds to the mess with flash-forwards that muddle the continuity. You may file them for later retrieval and not recall them once you've got the main story under control. Eventually the strands come together, though the final reckoning borrows from L.A. Confidential. (Dutton, $25.95)

BOTTOM LINE: Clear case of confusion

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