A Typical American Town

John Maddox Roberts, Author
John Maddox Roberts, Author St. Martin's Press $20.95 (247p) ISBN 978-0-312-11359-9
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
Maddox matches his justly acclaimed detective series set in ancient Rome (SPQR) with this tightly constructed, elegantly simple mystery about a prodigal son who falls into old troubles with new people when he tries to go home again. Narrator Gabe Treloar, who has left the LAPD under an alcoholic cloud, is on his way to a PI job in Cleveland when he stops by his hometown of Monticello, Ohio, ``a Norman Rockwell painting come to life.'' He runs into his teen throb Lola Cohan, 40-ish, thrice-divorced and still alluring, and learns that her brother Ansel now runs the family munitions manufacturing company, that the family still runs the town and that the great Cohan Chemical robbery of 30 years ago remains unsolved. Planning a month of nostalgia and a possible new future, Gabe rents the garage apartment at his old family home from current owner Edna Tutts. Returning from a night with Lola, he finds cops puzzling over Edna's tortured body and the ransacked house. Instantly a suspect, Gabe digs into Edna's past, following a packet of clues left secretly for him into a minefield of surprising developments peopled with comfortable, fully developed characters. (Nov.)