The Problem of Virtue

M. David Pohlman, Author St. Martin's Press $14.95 (168p) ISBN 978-0-312-02633-2
This gripping mystery about complex and credible characters tops most first novels and introduces an empathetic hero-narrator, ex-con Barney Fowler. His lover, divorcee Verna Kohl, has killed herself, according to the verdict, but Barney suspects she was murdered. In search of the truth, he risks re-arrest and his life, breaking parole by returning to the California town where he had been sentenced. Barney depends on the subterfuge of the hunted, dodging enemies among mobsters (including his own father, a Mafia chief) and picking up tips from one-time friends about Verna's ex-husband as well as other questionable types. Gradually, he learns of appalling crimes and forces the perpetrators to suffer for them as cruelly as their victims. Readers will look forward to more from talented Pohlman after this auspicious debut. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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