Whisper Death

John Lawrence Reynolds, Author
John Lawrence Reynolds, Author Viking Books $18.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-670-83669-7
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Finally bored with his unofficial sabbatical tending bar in the Bahamas, disaffected police detective Joe McGuire returns to Boston to retrieve his shield. He's quickly saddled with the job of extraditing Bunker Crawford, a post office employee who killed a postal inspector and fled to Palm Springs. Oddly, there's no file on Crawford and every question McGuire asks meets with federal disinformation. When his baby-faced temporary partner--the new lover of McGuire's old inamorata--is shot and Crawford assassinated, McGuire pushes all the harder, stirring up a hornet's nest of federal agents in the California desert. Reynolds ( The Man Who Murdered God ) is smack on the money with characters like Boston police captain Fat Eddy Vance, an oily buffoon, and McGuire's bedridden ex-partner, Ollie Schantz, a sharp mind in a broken body. But he obscures these bright sparks with a creaky government conspiracy plot and sophomoric dialogue between McGuire and a rich, flagrantly gorgeous widow, whose motives, meant to be mysterious, are obvious. Added to these false notes is a desert hermit spouting courtly prose who knows Crawford's secrets. (Feb.)
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