The Deader the Better

G. M. Ford, Author
G. M. Ford, Author William Morrow & Company $22 (352p) ISBN 978-0-380-97723-9
Mass Market Paperbound - 352 pages - 978-0-380-80420-7
Paperback - 456 pages - 978-0-330-42756-2
Open Ebook - 300 pages - 978-0-330-52957-0
Hardcover - 10 pages - 978-1-4056-0567-0
Hardcover - 10 pages - 978-1-4056-8451-4
Hardcover - 1 pages - 978-1-4084-9051-8
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Lots of smooth, wiseacre talk powers this agreeable caper past two major shortcomings: a near-overpowering intro section and a woefully underdeveloped big-scam ending that falls seriously flat. Freelance sleuth Leo Waterman memorably rescues a teenage girl from the Seattle streets, then heads deeper into the state of Washington to hang out with J.D. Springer, a fisherman pal. J.D. and his family have bought a place close to Native American land. He's made several enemies among the surly locals by denying them all fishing, hunting and boating rights. Soon J.D. is a charred corpse at the bottom of a hill, his cabin is burned out and his family has fled. Leo's initial inquiries lead to a car crash and copious injuries to both himself and Rebecca, his forensic pathologist girlfriend. All but abandoned by the more sensible Rebecca, Leo assembles a ragtag collection of career criminals for a projected megascam to root out the villains. The scam is barely under way before Leo incurs the wrath of the local cops and embarks on a romance with a wealthy local woman. Kindhearted, street smart and fast-mouthed, Leo possesses more than enough panache and personality to carry this slick yet slight work. (Feb.)
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