Slow Burn: A Marti Macalister Mystery

Eleanor Taylor Bland, Author
Eleanor Taylor Bland, Author St. Martin's Press $17.95 (212p) ISBN 978-0-312-09237-5
Mass Market Paperbound - 320 pages - 978-0-451-17944-9
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The remains of a burned-out medical clinic yield the bodies of the Latino receptionist and an unidentified pregnant 12-year-old as Bland ( Dead Time ) begins the second mystery to feature black woman cop Marti MacAlister. As in the first book, social issues tend to overshadow plot as MacAlister, who moved to the fictional Illinois town of Lincoln Prairie after the suicide of her husband, a Chicago cop, gamely faces the evils that surface well beyond big-city limits. Readers searching for clues will quickly cotton to the clinic doctor's broadly painted shiftiness and the glossed-over need to have new door keys cut just days before the fatal fire. The best moments here are minor ones, as Marti battles sexism and racism in gently understated, effective ways. Sections involving runaway kids falling into the hands of manipulative adults are written in an opaque, highly charged style that doesn't mesh well with Marti's low-key, no-nonsense methodology, giving the tale an uneven texture. (Aug.)
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