Hell-Bent for Election: A Joe Binney Mystery

Jack Livingston, Author St. Martin's Press $16.95 (309p) ISBN 978-0-312-01037-9
In this mild, only occasionally entertaining mystery reprising deaf investigator Joe Binney (The Nightmare File), a textbook publisher presents the detective with a problem: one of his salesmen who was killed in an auto accident may have been whisking books away for private profit. Hard-drinking, good-humored Binney, who is fond of quoting Carl Sandburg and Vachel Lindsay, visits the dead salesman's territory, a school district in the South. His sleuthing turns up a secretary of education moonlighting as local historian; a former bootlegger; and a school superintendant and industrialist with secrets to hide. The mystery proceeds good-naturedly, but at the cost of nailing down key points: Binney's disguise as a book salesman is transparent, for instance, and his scuba dive into a flooded coal mine too easily yields an important clue. When his con-men/killers are identified about halfway through the novel, and the plot spins off into a second investigation focusing on the exoneration of a falsely accused mad preacher, readers may feel the book's pieces are too conveniently stitched together. (February)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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