Painted Leaves

John Fink, Author
John Fink, Author St. Martin's Press $22.95 (266p) ISBN 978-0-312-13137-1
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Fink's first book, The Leaf Boats, was a multigenerational tale about Chicago's Gillespie family, centering around a triple murder. It was a riveting piece of fiction, if only a so-so mystery. The same judgment applies here, in Fink's third book, the second Gillespie mystery. TV reporter Jimmy Gillespie must deal with the apparent suicide of friend and anchorwoman Marlee Roberts, whose wrists were slashed in much the same way as those of two other women, both patients of a mysterious doctor. Reporter Karen Kohl covers the story, links the women, bags Marlee's old job and beds her acerbic, married boss. As two cops and a deluded woman trail the missing doc, Karen's terminal weirdness escalates and Jimmy wallows in the aftermath of his own family tragedy. The prose here is gentle and measured, the tone subdued; plot remains this talented author's Achilles' heel. Like a great many less skillful practitioners, he enlists too few suspects and tosses out too obvious a red herring; he also draws too clear a connection between one woman's sexuality and her evil character. (June)
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