Box Nine

Jack O'Connel, Author
Jack O'Connel, Author Mysterious Press $17.95 (309p) ISBN 978-0-89296-472-7
Reviewed on: 12/02/1991
Release date: 12/01/1991
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This won the publisher's Mysterious Discovery contest for best first crime novel and for the most part the story moves winningly indeed. In a city very much like Worcester, Mass., detective Lenore Thomas is teamed with a Chinese linguist as part of a police task force tracking down the makers and dealers of a new drug that induces murderous rage. Another detective, the mayor's mistress, is told to give inside info on the force's progress to her lover. Lenore's twin brother, Ike, a mailman, starts to find grisly objects in an unused P.O. box. As Lenore closes in on Cortez, boss of the city's tenderloin, she and the linguist begin a torrid affair. There's some wonderful local color, a large and varied cast of characters, some gore, a little steamy sex and a bloody climax. Unfortunately there are also a few improbable events (Ike's plain-Jane boss submitting sexually to a drug lord who calls himself the Paraclete), a tendency to pretension (Lenore: ``Memory has never brought you comfort?'' Cortez: ``Not that I recall'') and the Paraclete's not very surprising identity. But there's also real talent here. O'Connell's a definite discovery. BOMC alternate. (Jan.)
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