Stilled Life

Mikel Dunham, Author St. Martin's Press $17.95 (279p) ISBN 978-0-312-02645-5
Dunham identifies the characters in his first novel mainly by the ways they move their bowels, drink and abuse drugs. The setting is a SoHo gallery where artist Al Kheel's sculptures, constructions in a box frame, are destroyed and co-owner Emil Orloff is murdered. Orloff's partner is tough, cosmopolitan Rhea Buerklin, who cooperates with detective John Tennyson, in charge of the case. Buerklin and her staff get Tennyson's support of Kheel's proposal to flaunt the broken boxes as an exhibit to attract trendy types and possibly the killer. Composed of parts that don't fit, the mystery resembles the contrived show and can be best described as implausible. The author might have meant to burlesque the phoney, profitable avant-garde world, but the humor will escape his readers, unless they can sustain interest in the dislikable cast. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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