BOOKS: TUNNEL VISION

A GRITTY THRILLER CAPTURES BLUE-COLLAR, HARD-HAT LIFE

A little industrial-strength over-writing never hurt a thriller about mean streets in the big city, and first novelist Thomas Kelly knows when to break out the purple ink in Payback (Knopf; 273 pages; $23). "Billy peered over the edge of the roof," Kelly writes. "Far below, the life of the city surged through the streets like the blood of a great snarling beast, unimpeded by his concerns. He was just one more fool in its hard history who'd gotten in over his head." Good magenta stuff, requiring only a little Hammond-organ ominoso to sound like the musings of Guy Noir, Garrison...

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