Other notable deaths


July 14, 2006

Dorothy Uhnak, 76, who won fame as the 125-pound New York City Transit Authority policewoman who knocked down and arrested an armed mugger and then became better known as the author of gritty, suspenseful, best-selling crime novels, died Saturday in Greenport, N.Y., of what a daughter said was a drug overdose.

Mrs. Uhnak combined vibrant elements of her native New York, 14 years' experience as a police officer and a hard-boiled literary style that some compared to Dashiell Hammett's or Raymond Chandler's in nine books of fiction and one of nonfiction.

She preceded Joseph Wambaugh as a former police officer writing about the netherworld of crime and was a precursor of other women who have written about tough crime-fighting protagonists, including Marcia Muller, Sue Grafton and Patricia Cornwell.

She was born Dorothy Goldstein next door to the 46th Precinct house on Ryer Avenue in the Bronx, and her 1993 novel The Ryer Avenue Story, a murder mystery with a horrifying twist, features her old neighborhood.

Her first novel, The Bait, won the Edgar Award as the best first mystery novel of 1968 and introduced Detective Second Grade Christie Opara, who starred in her next two novels, The Witness (1969) and The Ledger.

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