Torch: A Fred Carver Mystery

John Lutz, Author Henry Holt & Company $22 (290p) ISBN 978-0-8050-2610-8
Lutz's Florida-based crime capers, most recently Spark and Hot , feature PI Fred Carver. Tense and relentless tales, they are essentially linear stories in which the reader is drawn along in the wake of brutal and seemingly unrelated events. Lutz highlights his series' hallmarks: Carver has a bullet-damaged bum knee, a powerful upper body, a black journalist girlfriend named Beth, an urbane Latino cop pal named Desoto and an alarmingly redneck cop enemy named McGregor. His cases tend to explode dramatically, often moments after he's been hired. No exception here. Young wife and mother Donna Winship throws herself in front of a truck minutes after handing Carver a check and asking him to follow her. She told him she was unhappily married, guiltily having an affair and worried about her husband's finding out. The day after her death, her husband Mark shoots himself. He was also less than faithful. Donna's lover has two names and works as a male model and occasional paid escort. Mark's lover also models once in a while. A coincidence? Hardly, since both extramarital interests moonlight for the same agency. Motivated by a sense of responsibility, curiosity and Donna's check, Carver continues to investigate and is soon joined by Beth, who is working on the story. Another death knocks down a third side of a ``love square.'' Lutz's blunt character sketches and gradually connected events are subtly effective. His dogged Carver is a believably heroic guy, tough, scarred and able to exhibit fear and courage at the same time. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
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