ture request on Dragnet, but the poetry of facts, like that of words, depends on inspired selection. What is most remarkable about Ask a Policeman is its hybrid sensibility, its ease in straddling two \(nay, three a couple of cultures. Klail and Barrones each have more in common with the other than with many other towns on their own side of the national divide. Lisandro Gomez’ successor as head of law enforcement in Barrones is spunky Maria Luisa Cetina, who attended high school in Klail and is able to explain, in fluent English, how, though it adheres to the Napoleonic Code, Mexican law is as attentive as la ley norteamericana to the rights of suspects. Spanish words and phrases mingle freely with English ones throughout the novel. However, in marked contrast to Hinojosa’s practice elsewhere in the Klail City Death Trip cycle \(where the use of English or Spanish, by characters and narrators, is dictated entirely by the context, not the presumed limitations of the scribed entirely in English, by speakers who know only Spanish. With better insight than grammar, Partners in Crime says about Rafe’s cousin, Jehu Malacara: “And, as most borderers throughout the world, he had little confidence in central authority.” In Ask a Policeman, Boyd Hackett, the F.B.I. agent assigned to Klail, is an interloper, less a partner than a pest to the local police. District Attorney Chip Valencia is a fatuous Republican who rinks his political ambitions to acquiring federal funding to buy unnecessary tanks and heavy weapons for Belken County. “The federal trough is longer than the Rio Grande,” notes Sam Dorson. “Trouble is, the trough doesn’t wash out into the Gulf.” Nor does everything in the plot of Ask a Policeman wash, and this novel about borderers does not always inspire confidence in its author. He asks his policemen, in Klail and Barrones, to follow step-by-step the procedures for closing the files on local felonies, while larger questions remain a mystery. Steven G. Kellman is the Ashbel Smith Professor of Comparative Literature at U.T.San Antonio. Get DownHome with The Texas Observer. Now you can read your favorite Observer features on The Texas Observer DownHome Page: Investigative Reporting, Molly Ivins, Jim Hightower, Political Intelligence, and all the rest. 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