Scream in Silence

Eleanor Taylor Bland, Author Thomas Dunne Books $23.95 (290p) ISBN 978-0-312-20378-8
A relentless arsonist, an elusive bomber, a puzzling murder--this burst of unrestrained mayhem in Lincoln Prairie, Ill., has Afro-American police detective Marti MacAlister and her partner, Vik Jessenovick, exhausted and perplexed. Virginia McCroft, political gadfly and busybody with ""the personality of a lemon,"" is found dead by gunshot in the basement of a home destroyed by arson. Hard-working Marti, a widow who has just remarried, learns that Virginia had been irritating almost everyone and may have been involved in shady land deals or even blackmail. Interwoven with this ongoing investigation are passages in the intense and anonymous voice of a psychopathic bomber and arsonist who displays rage, frustration and plans for future violence. Marti's detective work, which reaches into a tragic past, continues in a convoluted yet absorbing fashion, but a subplot about a petty con man and his lofty aspirations for a big-time scam steals the show. Geoffrey Bailey, worthless but charming, is endearingly inept, and a hair-raising encounter with the arsonist brings him some unexpected consequences. Also enriching the story is Marti's extended family--a grandmother, children, stepchildren, new husband and friends, some troubled, some loving, but all unique in their small roles. This is a generously layered novel, with the best parts peripheral to the mystery. Author tour. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
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