Books: Urban Razzle, Fatal Glamour

Four authors look at Miami, the definitive city of the '80s

In writing as in real estate, the operating word is location. Readers like to travel, to escape to a setting, preferably hot, sticky and fatally glamorous. Certain television producers understand this instinctively, which is why Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas do not star in a show called Toronto Vice. Canada's rising cosmopolis may suggest a bright promise of public responsibility and efficiency, but it is Miami whose hard-edged pastels define the pitiless sensuality of the '80s.

South Florida is also alluring as a beachhead for Latin American culture, politics and business, some of it conducted conspicuously with drug money packed...