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William J. Caunitz

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Detective Lieutenant William J. Caunitz served in the New York Police Department for thirty years.  William J. Caunitz wrote six best selling novels; the last was completed by his friend after his death in 1996.  He is the author of Exceptional Clearance; Cleopatra Gold; Black Sand; One Police Plaza; Suspects; Chains of Command; and, Pigtown.

Publisher’s Weekly said of Pigtown, “Nobody did police corruption as crisply and with such obvious delight as Caunitz. Just out in paperback, Pigtown is one of the very best thrillers by a fine writer who died in 1996. Many of the details in this story of high-level villainy at the NYPD will ring true because they come from an actual case, and Caunitz was smart enough to realize that he didn't have to gild these nasty lilies. Instead, he concentrated his energies on making Lt. Matthew Stuart as strong and accessible as ever as he traces the killer of a small-time mob figure right upstairs to the top of One Police Plaza.”

One reader of Pigtown said, “The last of the novels by Caunitz is his best since One Police Plaza. He offers accurate depictions of the true workings of a large police dept.It is safe to assume that what he describes about the NYPD is probably true about most other large police departments. He presents many characters and slowly develops the web that connects them all. This book was very hard to put down once I started reading it. It is a shame that the author passed away so young and we are deprived of more excellent works from him.”

One reader of Chains of Command said, “The bad news here is that the author died while working on this book and it was skillfully completed by Christopher Newman. Nevertheless it snaps and crackles with the dialogue and insider information that only Caunitz (a 30-year cop) could provide. You can read all of the police novels you want but you will NEVER find an author that gives you as much of the inside scoop on police work, language, and character. His plots are fascinating, his characters different yet utterly believable, and his mastery of giving a lot of information in a few words is unmatched. Caunitz was, quite simply, the best of them all at this kind of a novel. Rest In Peace, William J. Caunitz...I'll be re-reading your books from time to time until (hopefully) we meet in the beyond.”

The Library Journal said of Chains of Command, “Caunitz, a 30-year veteran of the NYPD and author of six best-selling novels, wrote half of this novel before his death in 1996, leaving friend Christopher Newman (creator of the popular Joe Dante series) to complete it. The book begins with the murder of a cop (with $5000 in his pocket) and his mistress (who has ties to the Cali drug cartel) in Washington Heights. Their deaths signal serious trouble for First Deputy Police Commissioner Suzanne Albrecht, who is in line to become the next commissioner and is worried that a scandal in the Heights will ruin her chances. So she enlists the aid of Matt Stuart, a lieutenant in the NYPD's intelligence division. When two street dealers are murdered, threatening to set off a territorial battle over the area's drug market, Albrecht and Stuart must act fast to avert a blood bath and save a political career. Caunitz is known for his thoughtful writing and accurate portrayal of procedure and police personnel, and his talents are displayed here to great effect.”

Library Journal said of Suspects, “This second police procedural by the author of One Police Plaza deals with the death of an exemplary police lieutenant and the owner of a neighborhood candy store in an apparent robbery attempt. Lt. Tony Scanlon's investigation turns up more questions than answers as he sifts through an odd assortment of characters, the seemingly unrelated murder of the candy store owner's son and his wife, and discovers that "role model" Joe Gallagher's behavior on and off "the Job" left something to be desired. A retired police veteran, Caunitz paints a vivid, violent picture of police work and the people involved on either side of the law, but the graphic descriptions of amputee Scanlon's sexual difficulties and his efforts to solve them seem excessive and will undoubtedly offend some. Still, enthusiasts of the genre will find much to enjoy here.”

One reader of Suspects said, “Author Caunitz is the complete police/detective thriller author and every other writer in this genre should be measured against him. His inside knowledge of police procedures, interactions of the characters, squad room banter, and all-around details of the world of law enforcement, contribute to a fascinating read. Nothing is spared here; the plot gives all the details of gory murder, sexual perversion, double lives led by some police, and political intrigue. Caunitz is as close as you can get to living life as a police investigator. Fascinating!”

One reader of Cleopatra Gold said, “Author and former lieutenant of the NYPD Caunitz is the best of the police procedural novelists, the most innovative, and one writer who gives you uncensored dialogue. You recognize it as fact; he's been there. His other books tell stories from the police side of things. This one tells about the narcotic trade from the inside as the reader follows the dangerous life of a detective who goes undercover. There is a crushing anaconda, a mysterious feminine killer, and much more. Novelists are able to deduct travel from their income tax which is why we see so many exotic locations in these books and this one is no exception. Some authors end up sounding like travel writers but Caunitz makes it work. Other thriller writers have achieved more fame but no one makes police/detective stories LIVE the way this author does. Try it, you'll like it.”

Kirkus reviews said of Cleopatra Gold, “Another sprawling report from the NYPD, this one tracing the cross-plotted attempts of two divisions to infiltrate a world-class heroin gang. Intelligence's man on the inside is Irish/Mexican lounge-singer Alejandro Monahan, who's been spending most of the years since his cop father was gunned down cultivating dope king Che-Che Morales--so successfully that Che-Che, who considers himself both his patron and his blood brother, doesn't see anything suspect about Alejandro's plan to airlift drug shipments over New York using the state-of-the-art Parapoint delivery system. Meanwhile, though, the boys in Narcotics, who have no idea that Intelligence has its own man in Morales's gang, pluck rookie Fiona Lee from the ranks and send her for a crash- training course at the Hacienda, a training facility in the Blue Ridge where, identifying herself as Belle Starr, she meets Alejandro, calling himself Jesse James. After Alejandro's been flown down to his Mexican hometown so that he can demonstrate the Parapoint system while Che-Che's intimidating his family, it's back to the Big Apple, where the two undercover cops will inevitably meet again and pursue a chaste romance as their apoplectic division chiefs take turns pulling out the rug from under each other to the accompaniment of falling bodies, many shot by sexy, uninhibited mob assassin Judith Stern, code-named Cleopatra. It's that kind of book. Under layers of procedural detail and telling anecdotes, the story is both overgalvanized and meandering--a far cry from One Police Plaza (1984). But Caunitz's novel view that druglords are only the triggermen for the Man's interdepartmental squabbles could sell big copies.”

One reader of Exceptional Clearance said, “This is author Caunitz's shortest book and that is my only complaint. He does not write "mysteries" in the classic sense; he writes police-procedural novels. You get the salty cop dialogue, an authentic inside look at what a cop's life is like, and all of the political, criminal, and hectic details - since the author is a former NYPD lieutenant. If you want a read "with the bark off" and enjoy hearing what a cop's life is REALLY like, you will enjoy this book immensely. If you are looking for something clever and Sherlockian, this isn't it. I love Caunitz's stories and reread them every once in a while.”

Exceptional Clearance
William Caunitz  More Info

William J. Caunitz  More Info

Chains of Command : Completed by Christopher Newman
William J. Caunitz  More Info
Cleopatra Gold
William Caunitz  More Info

William Caunitz  More Info
One Police Plaza
William J. Caunitz  More Info

*Signed* Black Sand
William Caunitz  More Info

One reader of One Police Plaza said, “The drab, dangerous and often funny details of police work give One Police Plaza a hard-boiled realism. Caunitz shows how government hacks, Mafiosi, reporters, spies and even New York's Catholic Diocese are linked to the cops and each other by a system of favors Malone's manipulation of his superiors and his relentless dedication give this novel the page-turning pull we expect from a good thriller. Its special strength is its carefully exacting depiction of what the working life of a big city police department really is like. With the same bold clarity that served him as a New York City police detective, first-novelist Caunitz delivers a powerful tale of murder and espionage. . . Caunitz expertly depicts the stark reality of the police officer's life and work, and his hard-edged prose drives the story to a stunning conclusion.”

Publisher’s Weekly said of Black Sand, “Caunitz did extremely well with two solid police procedurals, One Police Plaza and Suspects , but seems rather out of his depth in this tale of high-level international art smuggling machinations which involve a copy of Homer's Iliad that belonged to Alexander the Great. A planned assassination outside Athens that turns into a massacre and the simultaneous murder of a shady Greek dealer send Major Andreas Vassos of the Greek police off to New York to pursue leads that involve a brutal Irish gang and some smooth operators with ties to the State Department and the wartime OSS. Throw in a tough New York police lieutenant, a beautiful art historian and a villainous collector, and you have the makings for a fast-moving if sometimes hard-to-follow thriller. But there are two problems. One is that Caunitz has learned a great deal about classical antiquities that he is anxious to share with the reader, so that there are inappropriate chunks of learned exposition that drag heavily on the action; even the police procedural details, on which Caunitz is an expert, are poorly integrated. The other is that his writing is often lumpy, lame and crude. It's a book that simply tries to cover too much ground, and does not draw on the author's natural low-key, dogged strengths.”

One reader of Black Sand, “An apparently random massacre at a quiet Greek seaside resort by two American gunmen launches a relentless search for a legendary treasure, an artifact literally beyond price. BLACK SAND is the story of the unlikely collaboration between Detective Lieutenant Teddy Lucas, who runs a squad of earthy, quirky New York street cops, and Major Andreas Vassos of the Hellenic National Police, a man bent on recovering his nation's loss -- and revenging his own.

With the aid of a KGB liaison man and a beautiful curator of ancient manuscripts, Vassos and Lucas follow the twisted threads that lead from the blood-soaked village square in Greece to the rarefied world of multimillionaire collectors and shadowy underworld traffickers in stolen art objects.  BLACK SAND is also the story of a love affair that transforms Teddy Lucas's life, and the forging of a friendship that will lead to his liberation from a haunted past.

With absolute assurance, William J. Caunitz moves his characters through layer upon layer -- both straight and crooked -- of New York and Athens. He brings to life the secret corners of these two great cities, drawing on the arcane and fascinating knowledge that policemen acquire about the two worlds that coexist in all civilized societies where laws maintain a fragile barrier between prey and predator. When that barrier is broken, William Caunitz takes the reader into a world that only cops know about and seldom discuss. This compelling, high-speed narrative will capture and hold the reader's attention from the opening pages of Black Sand to its explosive climax.”

Kirkus Reviews said of Exceptional Clearance, “NYPD procedural veteran Caunitz (Black Sand, Suspects, One Police Plaza) coasts on his bestselling reputation in this pumped-up tale pitting still another department stalwart against an unusually preposterous psycho. In this corner, then: recent widower (melanoma) Lt. John Vinda, recalled from exile in Missing Persons to put himself on the line by solving a series of slashings of young women before the media realizes they're connected and jumps all over the case; and a chosen squad of basically interchangeable mavericks who don't mind bending a few rules. (After the confession Vinda extorts from a bomb supplier turns out to be bogus, two women from the squad go on their own to extort a second, accurate, confession.) And in this corner--his identity doesn't stay secret for long--Michael Worthington, stuntman-turned- actor, also in mourning for his wife, who left the convent to marry him but was killed by a stray police bullet soon after the wedding. As a killer, Worthington clearly has it in for the police, but that doesn't prevent the entire squad from obligingly gathering at his behest at One Police Plaza so that he can blow them all up--if only Vinda doesn't put two and two together in time. The hang-up that dictates the pattern of Worthington's revenge is deliciously absurd just by itself but, better still, it allows Vinda, after a series of feints padded out by exotic sex (S/M, masturbation, lesbianism, and coitus interruptus--the one unremarkable sexual encounter naturally takes place offstage), to exorcize his grief in a sublimely silly sequel to the bombing. Exciting as ever--but disappointingly routine under the trappings. And the killer is treated with a surprising lack of conviction.

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