Dancing in the Dark

Donald Thomas, Author St. Martin's Press $19.95 (220p) ISBN 978-0-312-10447-4
Trying to move up in postwar Britain, a small-time con man and cat burglar rips off a big-time crime boss, leaving a complement of unappealing characters fighting over the spoils. In this complex, difficult-to-follow plot, even Inspector Jack Rutter is hard to like; lacking personality, he seems to rely more on a superb memory and intuition than on building a case with solid evidence. The book opens with three murders: Sidney ``Roller'' Royce is shot; Tom Foster is drowned in his bathtub; and blue-movie actress Latifa Noon is chloroformed, stabbed and then disposed of in a faked car crash. All are associates of black marketeer Sonny Tarrant, who becomes the main suspect. Brash and ambitious, John ``Pretty Boy'' McIver sends dancer/call girl Solitaire to entertain Tarrant, who obligingly opens his wall safe in her presence. McIver's ensuing burglary relieves Tarrant of 10,000, but something goes amiss. Solitaire is murdered and McIver must run. Thomas ( The Ripper's Apprentice ) provides reliable period detail, but the action is melodramatic and soft, reminiscent of the era's pulp fiction. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
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