Strawberry Tattoo

Lauren Henderson, Author
Lauren Henderson, Author Three Rivers Press (CA) $19 (316p) ISBN 978-0-609-80685-2
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For sheer fun, sexy, impudent Sam Jones, a London sculptor and unofficial sleuth, is a great date. If you like brash commentary on current art, outr fashions or touring the funky lower Manhattan club scene, she's for you; but if you prefer an intricately woven mystery, look elsewhere. This third in the series (after Freeze My Margarita) finds Sam in New York to exhibit her massive sculptures in a four-person show of young Brits at the cutting-edge Bergmann LaTouche Gallery in Soho. Crime seems to dog Sam. She's not in New York a day when someone throws buckets of red paint on a large installation by prominent artist Barbara Bilder, and one of the gallery assistants, Kate Jacobson, is found strangled in Central Park's Strawberry Fields. In a further complication for Sam, jealous Barbara's husband is none other than the estranged father of Sam's childhood friend, sometime-artist Kim Tallboy, now living in Manhattan. Sam the outsider becomes the confidante of many of the tense gallery employees, especially as she scopes out the club and drug scene. Henderson is quite funny comparing British tastes with American: while the politically incorrect Sam accompanies her snorts of coke with cigarettes and lots of gin, New Yorkers prefer Prozac and vegetarian slushes. And Sam never does figure out the arcane American dating customs. Henderson is a witty and observant writer, creating such eccentric characters, quirky scenes and bizarre situations that readers may forgive her offhand manner when it comes to plot. (Sept.)
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