Dead Folks' Blues

Steven Womack, Author
Steven Womack, Author Fawcett Books $5.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-345-37674-9
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
Nashville PI Harry James Denton is hired by an old flame, Rachel Fletcher, to help her settle her husband Conrad's gambling debts--Conrad has been getting pay-up-or-else messages. Harry decides to drop in on Conrad, a surgeon, at the local hospital--and finds him sprawled on a bed, unconscious and near death. Harry is then whacked on the head by an unseen assailant. He later learns from forensic pathologist Marsha Helms that a narcotic injection caused Conrad's death. Strongly intimating that she would like to turn to him for comfort, Rachel pulls Harry off the case. Nevertheless, he is determined to find Conrad's murderer. Attending the wake, he finds that Conrad was rather unpopular; the guests have come less to pay their respects than ``to make sure he was really dead.'' There is a lot to like in Womack's ( Smash Cut ) hard-boiled murder mystery--an engaging sleuth, a convincing setting, a passel of folks to distrust and some good minor characters (notably Marsha). But while the book's payoff has a tidy surprise in it, it also fails to tie up some important strands of the murder scenario. (Jan.)