An Image to Die for: A Sam Dean Mystery

Mike Phillips, Author St. Martin's Press $22.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-312-15147-8
Even after 1995's underrated Point of Darkness brought Sam Dean to New York, American readers may still be unfamiliar with the black Caribbean-born Londoner whose amateur sleuthing draws on his skills as a freelance journalist and roving cultural critic. In Sammy's fourth outing, a taut exploration of TV tabloid journalism, life begins to imitate art. Sammy's friend Wyndham Davis is producing a true-crime TV documentary intended to prove that a convicted murderer is innocent. When a production assistant staggers onto the set and dies in a bloody heap, Sammy is roped into investigating both that murder and the one being investigated on the documentary. Sammy pursues Amaryll, a young Caribbean man whom Wyndham suspects committed the murder for which the victim's husband has been convicted. As he tracks Amaryll, Sammy considers his relationship with his adolescent son and the limited lifestyle choices available to most of England's people of color. As Sammy rekindles an old affair with Wyndham's wife, Wyndham drifts into foreboding liaisons with co-worker Joan and her sister, Caroline. A third murder forces Sammy to find the connection between the first two before anyone else winds up dead. American readers willing to wonder a bit about unfamiliar London landmarks and neighborhoods will be rewarded by Phillips's subtle psychological complexities and deadpan ironies. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
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