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Cranks and Shadows Hardcover – February 1, 1995


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Cranks and Shadows + Bottom Liner Blues + Brushback (Mario Balzic Novel)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 314 pages
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press; First Edition edition (February 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892965436
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892965434
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #754,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Only a few crime writers, Joseph Hansen among them, have risked letting their sleuths age gracefully and/or brought their series to a definitive end. Here Constantine caps the long, bitter career of Mario Balzic, his pragmatic Pennsylvanian police chief, with a hard-earned, all-night retirement party. Balzic has kept the peace in the town of Rocksburg since his 1972 introduction in The Rocksburg Railroad Murders. Now 65, with an old geezer's face looking back from the mirror and his wife's mind on Florida, Mario is told by the mayor that five cops have to be cut from the force. Outraged and frustrated at having to decide who to let go, he himself remains all cop; even drinking with his pals at Muscotti's bar, his cop's ear takes in the gossip and tales of political maneuvering that bespeak a world more morally complex than he can stomach. The mystery revolves mainly around paramilitary types seen stomping around the outskirts of town, practicing jumps from a helicopter and markedly not answering Mario's very hostile questions. But this elegiac swansong of a working-class cop is as much about loyalty, urban blight and aging's nasty tricks as it is about detecting. Constantine's perfectly pitched dialogue and inimitable characters are as sharply depicted as in any of the series' ten previous titles. So long, Mario, you're one of a kind and we'll miss you.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Mario Balzic, the aging chief of police in Rocksburg, Pennsylvania, is fed up. He doesn't want to retire, but he's sick of the politicians, the municipal scams, the cutbacks, the whole mess of it. Constantine fans, who have followed Balzic's career since 1972, will recognize this novel for the momentous event it signals: the swan song of one of the most memorable cops in the history of the police procedural. Over 11 novels, Constantine has used the beleaguered Balzic to portray the oppressive dailiness of a cop's life: the domestic violence, the petty crime, the endless bureaucratic infighting, the eroding personal life. This time, there's all of that and more: a commando unit, led by the power-hungry fire chief, seems to be usurping the police's responsibility. If, in this novel and its predecessor, Bottom Liner Blues (1993), Constantine seems to be climbing atop his soapbox a bit too often to rail at the ills of contemporary society, he still knows how to write working-class dialogue that spits itself off the page with an unequaled ferocity. This isn't the best Balzic novel, but attention must be paid to a marvelous series. Bill Ott

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 3, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
K.C. Constantine started his publishing career with The Rocksburg Railroad Murders, which was published by a small literary press in Boston. Over the years, Constantine's eye and skill have become so remarkable that he transcends both the mystery genre and the limitations of series character works.

Constantine has an ear for dialogue that rivals George V. Higgins, and his narrator, Police Chief Mario Balzic, is a proud, despairing, upstanding man in a town that's been falling apart for 20 years. Rocksburg is the mystery novel's answer to Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County, rendered with all the family intrigue and hardscrabble perseverance alive and intact. Often there's no murder, or mystery in a conventional sense in these novels -- the thing that is grand about them is that through Balzic's eyes we can see our everyday lives as a mystery, where we do the best we can with the clues we've got.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read through the first ten Mario Balzic novels by K.C. Constantine consecutively, not knowing that I had stopped short of the final book in the series, "Cranks and Shadows." The end of the road for Mario Balzic is a bittersweet conclusion, although over the course of the last few novels I had found myself in total agreement with his wife Ruth that he needs to pay more attention to her and learn to stop being totally consumed by his job as Police Chief of Rocksburg, Pennsylvania. For ten books Balzic has stubbornly avoided doing either and his Achilles heel has been that as good as he is at wearing people done through intense conversations, his wife can turn the tables on him in that particular arena. The question is whether Balzis is going to go out with a bang or with a whimper.
Rockburg is seeing hard times. Already the Sanitation Department, the city's vehicle mechanics, its plumber, and two carpenters have been replaced by private contractors. It has been eight years since Balzic has hired any new officers for the Police Department or that his men have seen a promotion. Now Mayor Kenny Strohn has told Balzic to layoff five officers, leaving him but twenty-five members to police an economically depressed city of 15,000. As if that was not bad enough, Balzic is stunned to discover a small group of heavily armed, camouflaged commandos rappelling out of a blue-and-white helicopter. The chief cannot get any answers out of these para-military figures, which means he is going to start asking hard questions. When he learns what is going on in his town and discovers that not everybody has the same idea of public service that has been the rock upon which Balzic has built his career, he realizes it is time to reconsider what is left of his life.
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