Family Planning

Michael Z. Lewin, Author, Lewin, Author Minotaur Books $23.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-312-24391-3
Of all the matters that concern members of the Lunghi Family of Bath, England, in their latest outing, crime is the least of them. That eclecticism adds charm to this novel, but it also creates a problem: the Lunghis (Family Business, etc.) are private detectives, and this is at least nominally a mystery. While it's pleasant to learn that daughter Rosetta is studying line-dancing, and that Mama is so worried about her son Salvatore's ""self-steam"" (""Everywhere you hear about self-steam these days, like on programs with audiences that should not be pooh-poohed just because they're Americans"") that she's thinking of going against her husband's wishes and investing in a restaurant where Sal can exhibit his paintings, these revelations don't generate suspense. True, son Angelo and his wife, Gina, are looking into the case of a woman who's being threatened by numerical messages on her pager, and the Old Man--the founder of the agency and the shrewd businessman who put together the small real-estate empire that keeps the family solvent--has been asked to help prove that a client didn't murder his uncle ten years ago. And teenager Marie, the daughter of Gina and Angelo, does seem to have gotten in over her head in a scheme to earn some extra money for Christmas. As in real life, work and personal interests interact and clash, with results both surprising and predictable. The wonderful Regency city of Bath is treated as an ordinary, nondescript backdrop: another example of Lewin's sometimes regrettable refusal to hype anything for effect. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/1999
Release date: 10/01/1999
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